UN warns of disastrous humanitarian situation in east DRC

The United Nations expressed alarm on Tuesday over the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in three eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where nearly 3.3 million people have been displaced since March 2022.

Militias and rebel groups have plagued much of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo for decades, a legacy of regional wars that flared in the 1990s and 2000s. 

One particular armed group, the M23, has captured swathes of territory in North Kivu since taking up arms again in late 2021 after years of dormancy.

The UN warned on Thursday that to meet the needs of the people affected by violence in the region, humanitarian workers need more than $1.5 billion in funding.

“The humanitarian situation in Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu, already catastrophic, has deteriorated in recent months, and it has been essential to increase the scale of our operation,” said Suzanna Tkalec, UN coordinator for interim humanitarian aid in the DRC.

Humanitarian organisations have distributed aid and assistance to more than 910,000 people in those three provinces in the last six weeks, the UN office said.

“But by the end of the year the UN, the Red Cross and NGOs will need to be providing emergency aid to nearly 5.5 million people,” the UN said. 

Independent UN experts, the DRC government and several Western nations including the United States and France accuse Rwanda of actively backing the M23, despite denials from Kigali.

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