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DRC In Chaos

Until now in the series of humanitarian crisis most countries I wrote about were the ones which are deprived of resources, but today I am going to talk about Democratic Republic of Congo- a country housing mineral ore worth $24 trillion and also one of the densely populated countries of the world i.e., ample human resources. Yet fraught with conflict and violence, this country is currently experiencing the largest and the worst displacement crisis in Africa.

According to Mercy Corps DRC hosts one of the world’s most complex and long-standing humanitarian crises, centred particularly in the east of the country. More than 2.1 million people were forced to flee their homes in 2017 alone — equivalent to an average of 50 families fleeing every hour, every day. The situation is so grave that in 2019, this country will host the second highest number of people living below the poverty line.

Democratic Republic of Congo, situated in central Africa is the second largest country in Africa. In spite of all this many of its people have not seen peace in more than 20 years.

What is the reason behind the misery of DRC’s people?

Weak governance, lack of infrastructure, stunted economy and decades of conflict have led to the stagnation.

In the Ituri, Kasai, and Kivu regions. More than one hundred armed groups, such as the Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces, are believed to operate in the eastern region of the DRC. Despite the presence of more than sixteen thousand UN peacekeepers, these groups continue to terrorize communities and control weakly governed areas. Millions of civilians have been forced to flee the fighting: The United Nations estimates there are currently 4.5 million internally displaced persons in the DRC, and more than 800,000 DRC refugees in other nations.

The origin of the present crises dates back to 1994 genocide in Rwanda. To save themselves the Hutus fled to eastern DRC and formed armed groups, opposing Tutsi and other opportunistic rebel groups arose. The Congolese government was unable to control and defeat the various armed groups, some of which directly threatened populations in neighbouring countries, and war eventually broke out.

From 1998-2003 the second war of DRC. broke out backed by government forces supported by Angola, Namibia, and Zimbabwe fought rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda. The death tolls reached 3 million. Despite peace treaties and preventive measures being taken, ongoing violence perpetrated by armed forces on civilians continue.

One of the major rebel groups that emerged after these wars is called March 23 Movement (M23), made up primarily of ethnic Tutsis who were allegedly supported by the Rwandan government.

The aftermath of these wars is far more devastating, it is estimated that more than 5.5 million people are displaced inside DRC, making the country most affected by Internal displacement.

Other than this, the country’s rich mineral resources have also been a fuel to the violence. These minerals provide financial means to the groups. Even after legislation being passed by the US in 2010, to stop the purchase of “conflict minerals” the supply chain in this business is unable to be disrupted.

No one focuses on the terrible price paid by women and girls during the decades long conflict, I’ll talk numbers- It is estimated that there are as many as 200,000 surviving rape victims living in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A 2011 report recorded that 1,000 women had been raped daily. According to research conducted by The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2010, 39.7% of women in the Eastern Region (North Kivu, South Kivu, and Province Orientale) of the DRC reported to have been exposed to sexual violence during their lifetime, most commonly taking its form in rape.

UNFPA reported that over 65% of victims during the past 15 years were children. The majority of this percentage was adolescent girls and roughly 10% of child victims are said to be under 10 years old. Many child soldiers, after being recruited from refugee camps, are often sexually abused.

Over 12 percent of children in the eastern part of the DRC do not reach their first birthday, tens of thousands of children have been recruited as child soldiers, and rape of girls and gender-based violence of minors is widespread.

DRC houses over 524,000 refugees from neighbouring countries. This primarily includes individuals from Rwanda, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Burundi. Over fifty-percent of these refugees are women and children. While millions are seeking refuge in DRC approximately one million people have fled to neighbouring countries, such as Uganda, Southern Africa, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia and Angola. At the beginning of this year, nearly 400,000 Congolese have sought refuge in Uganda.

Present scenario:

Congolese people’s fight for survival is on. According to UNHCR as of 29 February 2020, over 918,000- DRC refugees and asylum-seekers are being hosted in African countries whereas 5.01 million people are displaced inside DRC (between Oct. 2017 and Sept. 2019) and almost 524,000 refugees and 3,188 asylum-seekers in the DRC (as of 31 January 2020).

15,000,000 children are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, 25,600,000 people in need. 17,143 cases of cholera reported since January of 2020.

Since January 2019, 6,600 children have been killed by measles. Although the government has vaccinated many, yet many are to be vaccinated. Along with this DRC is also facing one of the worst Ebola outbreaks since June 2018. The country was fighting with its tenth Ebola outbreak at that time. The World Health Organization has declared the ongoing outbreak a public health emergency of international concern with more than 3,300 confirmed cases of infection and 2,200 deaths.

Due to poor road construction connectivity gets hampered during the rainy season which leads to denial of people from getting aid.

In South Kivu Province for instance, some 400,000 people are estimated to have been cut off from aid since late 2019 in the areas of Bijombo, Fizi and Itombwe. Women, children and the elderly have paid a heavy price in terms of health, access to food and protection.

What is the international community doing to help DRC?

DRC is a ticking time bomb, with rising cases of Ebola, measles, the unprecedented decades long war and with the latest COVID-19 pandemic worsening the situation even more, the country and its people struggle to survive. Without the help of the international community the country that’s already on its knees won’t be able to do so for longer.

EU humanitarian funding in the DRC is helping people affected by violence and displacement, acute malnutrition, and epidemics. The EU also provides, on a regular basis, logistical support to the humanitarian community in the DRC through its humanitarian air service. These flights are often the only way to reach people in need in remote areas, deliver life-saving supplies and transport aid workers. Every year since 2017, the EU has allocated more than €7 million to the operation of humanitarian air flights in the DRC

DRC is a ticking time bomb, if nothing's done now it'll be impossible to revive the Congolese people later. The international community must act soon.


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