Poor humanitarian access to displaced populations puts thousands at risk in DRC, warns IRC

ByInternational Rescue Committee

Poor humanitarian access to displaced populations puts thousands at risk in DRC, warns IRC

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is concerned about the escalating humanitarian crisis in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where 135,000 people have been displaced fleeing the intensification of fighting between the Congolese army and non-state armed groups since the beginning of 2024. The situation in the region has reached dire proportions, with widespread displacement, violence, and acute humanitarian needs.

Heather Kerr, IRC Country Director in DRC, said: “It is harrowing to witness the toll of armed conflict on civilians – to see families torn from their homes, seeking safety amidst the chaos. Women, children, and vulnerable communities face real and terrifying threats of violence, exploitation, and the loss of fundamental rights. In just the past months, I’ve seen too many lives lost, too many injuries sustained, and too many loved ones torn away by this relentless conflict. Access to life’s essentials – healthcare, clean water, food – remains painfully out of reach for many, worsening an already dire situation. Every day, humanitarian efforts are met with daunting obstacles, as insecurity and logistical nightmares hinder our ability to provide crucial aid to those who need it most. This is not just a crisis on paper; it’s a daily struggle for survival for countless individuals, and we must do everything in our power to support people in need.”

The deteriorating humanitarian situation in North Kivu demands urgent attention and action from the international community. Immediate steps must be taken to ensure the protection of civilians, facilitate unhindered humanitarian access, and address the root causes of the conflict.

Furthermore, sustained funding is needed to provide vital assistance and protection to those affected by the crisis, including displaced populations and host communities. Last year, the Humanitarian Response Plan for DRC was funded at less than 40%, leaving millions of people without critical humanitarian services whilst the humanitarian situation has deteriorated considerably since.

The International Rescue Committee calls on all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law and respect the rights and dignity of civilians. IRC urges the international community to mobilize resources and support to address the humanitarian needs in North Kivu and work towards a sustainable and peaceful resolution to the crisis. Time is of the essence, and concerted efforts are needed to prevent further suffering and alleviate the plight of those affected by this humanitarian catastrophe.

The IRC has been operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since 1996. The organization delivers emergency assistance to individuals affected by recurring crises while fostering social cohesion within communities through collaborative efforts with Congolese institutions.

IRC also provides essential health services, including primary healthcare, sexual and reproductive health, infection prevention and control, as well as water, sanitation, and hygiene. IRC reinforces violence prevention and supports survivors of gender-based violence through comprehensive interventions, including providing psychosocial support, facilitating economic recovery, and ensuring access to essential services (such as legal and medical assistance), particularly in eastern DRC where there is a severe protection crisis. IRC approach involves collaboration with communities and their institutions to promote social cohesion aimed at conflict reduction and support to primary and secondary schools.