Violence in eastern DR Congo has displaced 800,000 | Democratic Republic of Congo

The escalation of violence in the North Kivu region, in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has displaced more than 800,000 people in the last 12 months, including around 300,000 who had to leave their homes in February, according to the High Commission of the United Nations for Refugees (UNHCR).

The activity of armed groups such as the March 23 Movement (M23) or the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), as well as the operations launched by the Government itself, have led to an incessant wave of displaced people which also increases the humanitarian needs of the local population, which is dependent on the most basic help.

The UN tries to assess these needs, which also involves giving numbers to the emergency. In the last week alone, some 20,000 people fled the town of Rutshuru, while in mid-February nearly 50,000 fled in the Kitchanga region, explained UNHCR spokesman Matthew Saltmarsh.

“Civilians continue to suffer the highest and bloodiest price of the conflict”, said the spokesman, who explained that part of the displaced people had gone to neighboring provinces such as South Kivu or Ituri. Furthermore, this year some 5500 crossed the border into Rwanda and another 5300 into Uganda.

Those fleeing conflict zones report scenes of indiscriminate violence and include “arbitrary executions, kidnappings, extortion and rape”, explains Saltmarsh who urged all parties to put an end to the violence.

DR Congo is the scene of the biggest IDP crisis in Africa with 5.8 million people affected.

The UN warns that needs are skyrocketing to the point of surpassing “a dramatic level” the available resources, so Saltmarsh appealed for international solidarity. For 2023, UNHCR has asked for more than 232 million dollars (220 million euros), but has so far only managed 8% of that amount.

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