UN says DR Congo needs $2.25bn for war victims in the east
The United Nations will need to mobilise a record $2.25 billion this year to address the mass displacement of people in east Democratic Republic of Congo following a major offensive by M23 rebels last year, the UN coordinator for the country Bruno Lemarquis said on Wednesday.
Decades of militia violence in Congo’s vast mineral-rich east worsened last year after the Tutsi-led M23 staged a major come-back in North Kivu province in March, uprooting more than 600,000 people, according to the UN.
That has added to hordes of others displaced across east Congo over the years.
Lemarquis said in a statement before a ceremony in the capital Kinshasa that $2.25 billion would be required to resolve this crisis.
Largest number of IDPs
“Today, the DRC has 5.7 million internally displaced people, the largest number on the African continent,” he told Reuters during an interview on Tuesday.
“The vast majority of the targeted humanitarian needs are in Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu and the Kasai,” he said, referring to the country’s four eastern provinces.
He said this higher 2023 budget was also needed to cover increases in operational costs linked to soaring global prices due to the war in Ukraine.
In 2022, the UN had planned to spend $1.88 billion for Congo. Only 48 percent of this objective was met, reaching only 5 million out of 8.8 million targeted people. Funds are needed for food, water, shelter and medicine.
The army has struggled to resolve a conflict that has caused a diplomatic spat with neighbouring Rwanda, which Congo accuses of backing the rebels. Rwanda denies this.
Spiralling insecurity in the east is adding to other ongoing humanitarian crises such as growing food insecurity linked to the impact of climate change.
Congo is also regularly hit with outbreaks of measles, the latest of which infected 148,600 people and killed 1,800 last year, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontières said on Tuesday.
The latest rebel offensive has added to concerns about parliamentary and presidential elections on December 20.