A U.N. official says a funding shortage means humanitarian aid will have to be cut for many of the nearly 10 million people in Democratic Republic of Congo facing multiple crises because of lack of money.
Conflict in the eastern DRC has forced 5.3 million people to flee their homes, Africa’s largest number of internally displaced people. Additionally, conflict in neighboring countries has prompted more than half a million refugees to flee to the DRC.
The U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator in the DRC, David McLachlan-Karr, says millions of people in the eastern provinces are victims of long-simmering inter-ethnic conflicts and conflicts over natural resources.
He says the situation is particularly concerning in Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu provinces, as well as territories in northern Tanganyika. These protracted conflicts, he says, have left millions of people destitute and in urgent need of assistance.
He says it will be difficult to provide that aid because only 27% of the U.N.’s nearly $2 billion appeal for this year has been funded.
”[It is] impacting our ability to reach the most vulnerable. And those populations, of course, leave us with a very stark choice. Who do we assist when we have such a reduced amount of assistance, forcing us to prioritize … in the DRC, which is a vast country with multiple crises,” McLachlan-Karr said.
For example, he said, the country is prone to repeated epidemics of many diseases, including Ebola, cholera, measles, and malaria. Currently, he says, the DRC is facing a lethal meningitis outbreak.
McLachlan-Karr said a recent World Food Program and UNICEF survey found 26.7 million people suffering from acute hunger in the DRC.
“They are literally living day to day in a precarious situation with an inadequate nutritional intake, leading to, essentially, a weakened condition, which, of course, makes them more prone and vulnerable to diseases across the country,” he said.
McLachlan-Karr said priority needs include food, shelter, health care, water and sanitation, education, as well as psychosocial counseling for victims of gender and sexual abuse.