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IOM: Humanitarian Situation in DRC Deteriorates to Alarming Level

FILE - A volunteer brings daily food rations for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), at a camp for IDPs fleeing the conflict in Congo's Kasai province, in Kikwit, DRC, June 7, 2017.

The International Organization for Migration reports an alarming deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Democratic Republic of Congo, as fighting continues to spread throughout the country, forcing thousands to flee.

The International Organization for Migration reports a humanitarian catastrophe is looming in Democratic Republic of Congo. It notes spreading violence in parts of the country has forced more than 4 million people to flee their homes, making DRC the African country with the highest displacement population.

The most combustible regions include the eastern and south-central provinces of North and South Kivu, Tanganyika, and Kasai. Jean-Pierre Chauzy is IOM Chief of Mission in DRC. Speaking by telephone from Kinshasa, he says conditions are deteriorating at an alarming rate.

For example, he noted there have been six displacements in North Kivu during the past few weeks due to clashes between armed groups and Congolese forces. He said civilians are being attacked and many are caught in the crossfire. He said aid agencies are so strapped for cash that some 20,000 people have received no assistance to date.

“Many IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons), and I saw them, having no choice but to pitch ... bits of tarpaulin in unsafe areas. With IDP’s that are being drawn into labor in the host communities to try and earn some money. And, also pushing vulnerable IDPs into what we call negative coping mechanisms — multiple exploitations and that would also [include] transactional sex. And, of course, this is where gender-based violence is also widely spread,” said Chauzy.

IOM is appealing for $75 million to urgently meet the growing needs of displaced Congolese and the communities in the violent eastern and central provinces hosting them.

Chauzy said more than 13 million people will be in desperate need of humanitarian assistance and protection throughout the next year. He said they will need shelter, food, clean water, sanitation, and health care.