from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – NEARLY 1 400 civilians have been killed in conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since the beginning of the year.
This is according to aid agencies, which also report over 340 cases of sexual violence during the period.
Over 26 million people already do not have enough to eat due to years of conflict and displacement.
“Continued violence is now pushing them (Congolese civilians) to the brink,” said Justine Gomis Tossou, Oxfam Country Director in DRC.
More than 600 000 people have been forced to flee their homes since violence escalated in June 2022.
Sidibe Kadidia, Care International Country Director in DRC, said hundreds of people were arriving daily and being crammed in crowded makeshift camps.
The official disclosed that in Lushagala, 12km from Goma, the North Kivu capital, the number of families arriving increased from 2 280 to 6 261 in just one week.
“This is stretching resources such as clean water and sanitation and increasing the risk of outbreak of waterborne diseases such as cholera,” Kadidia said.
There, over 59 000 children are malnourished and over 5 000 pregnant women require appropriate nutritional care.
Kadidia said with food insecurity, overcrowding in the sites, poor hygiene and sanitation conditions, shortage of drinking water, and lack of access to health care, the likelihood of an increase in the cases of cholera in the makeshift camps is high in Nyiragongo.
“Conflict hampers access to get much-needed aid to the affected,” the official said.
DRC already suffers the largest internal displacement crisis in Africa due to the violence by armed groups.
Over 5,8 million people across Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu and Tanganyika provinces – over half of them being women – have been forced to flee their homes.
Despite the worsening humanitarian situation, slightly more than 10 percent of the US$2,25 billion United Nations appeal for DRC this year has been funded to date.
Care International, the Danish Refugee Council and Oxfam have called on donors to urgently meet the UN appeal.
– CAJ News