DR Congo emergency

Fresh waves of unrest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have displaced over 1.9 million people since January 2017 – chiefly in the Kasai, Tanganyika and Kivu regions. Tens of thousands more have fled to Angola, Zambia and other neighbouring countries.

People are fleeing their homes at a worrying pace, as worsening violence destroys lives and livelihoods across the country.

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Over 600,000

DRC refugees in sub-Saharan Africa


4.25 million

people displaced inside DRC


Over 526,000

refugees from other African countries in the DRC


As of 9 January 2018

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is one of the most complex and challenging humanitarian situations worldwide, with multiple conflicts affecting several parts of its vast territory.

Hopes soared after a long and costly civil war was brought to an end in 2003, but the nation has instead seen sporadic waves of fighting – especially in North Kivu, where the impact of widespread violence and anarchy persists.

Now, thousands of civilians are again struggling for survival.

Although many people have returned to Kasai, they have often found their property, businesses and schools in ruins and family members killed. Human rights violations are still widespread, including physical mutilation, killings, sexual violence, arbitrary arrest and detention in inhumane conditions. Today, over 896,000 people remain displaced within the Kasai region.

"Armed men killed my wife and three of our children. I don’t know why."

Kadima Kabenge, mine worker who fled attacks in Kasai Province

While these conflicts have forced many Congolese to flee their homes, the country also hosts over half a million refugees from neighbouring countries. It continues to see new arrivals from Burundi, Central African Republic and South Sudan.

The risk of further displacement is high, as political and ethnic conflicts affect many areas. Protection needs particularly for the most vulnerable are enormous, and the challenges of getting aid to those in need are increasing. Strengthening public health, sanitation and water supplies to prevent diseases remains vital.

The UN now classifies parts of the DRC as a Level 3 emergency, the highest level, indicating an urgent need to scale up aid.

What is UNHCR doing to help?

UNHCR is assisting people displaced inside the DRC through activities aimed at preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence and at strengthening the protection of vulnerable people, including women and children.

We are also working with the International Organization for Migration to lead the coordination and management of sites hosting internally displaced people (IDPs) in North Kivu. We provide shelter in some areas and have carried out pilot projects to support local integration.

UNHCR is strengthening its staff presence in Kasai, where we are coordinating protection activities for IDPs, returnees and other vulnerable civilians. We have distributed aid and are preparing additional support for communities where returns are taking place. We are providing cash for the most vulnerable displaced and returnees in the Kasai region to help them reconstruct their homes and buy household goods or agricultural tools.

We also continue to provide protection and assistance to Congolese refugees in neighbouring countries, in collaboration with authorities and partners, including those forced to flee during the most recent surge of violence.

Despite the enormous needs, UNHCR has received less than a quarter of the US$236.2 million required to provide life-saving assistance and protection to refugees, IDPs and other vulnerable people in the DRC. More support is urgently needed. Please help now.

Reports and Links