Humanitarians are struggling to meet the basic needs of over 200,000 people recently displaced by clashes in North Kivu Province, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Access has been limited by the mountainous and volcanic terrain coupled with widespread, shifting insecurity.

Humanitarian agencies on the ground report urgent requirements in health care, food, water and sanitation, nutrition, shelter and non-food items. Most of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) are living in host families, while some have moved into schools, health centres and churches. In both cases, they are draining the already limited resources of their hosts.

While many Congolese are willing to take in IDPs, towns such as Rwanguba in North Kivu (on the road to Bunagana on the Ugandan border) are full to capacity. The displaced line the road by day, smoke rising from piles of volcanic rock, with clothes laid out to dry as they try to go about their household chores while perpetually on the move. By night, they find whatever shelter they can.

“All humanitarian partners in North Kivu are fully deploying their resources but the capacity is not sufficient at the moment to cover all the needs identified. That’s why we called for more funding in order to be able to complete the actual response and sustain it as long as the crisis lasts,” said Yvon Edoumou, spokesman for the UN Office for the Cooperation of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Goma.

According to OCHA, just 35 percent of a US$718 million appeal for humanitarian assistance to DRC has been met.

Defections from the national army (FARDC) in mid-April left security vacuums across the region that were filled by militia groups. The situation further deteriorated when FARDC redeployed troops in the region to help quell the rebellion. Fighting in the North Kivu town of Masisi, the stronghold of indicted war criminal Gen Bosco Ntaganda and the now militarily defunct rebel-group CNDP, displaced a major wave of people in mid-April.  Read more…