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UN Refugee Agency expresses alarm over escalating humanitarian crisis in eastern DR Congo

Briefing notes

UN Refugee Agency expresses alarm over escalating humanitarian crisis in eastern DR Congo

23 February 2024
A large displacement site

The Mugunga displacement site near Goma, eastern DR Congo, has been receiving new arrivals fleeing surging violence in Sake, North Kivu.

GENEVA – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is gravely concerned by the worsening humanitarian situation civilians face in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Intensifying violence and conflict are exacting a heavy toll on innocent civilians, hundreds of thousands of whom are attempting to seek safety on the peripheries of conflict zones.

Since the resurgence of fighting around the town of Sake in the North Kivu Province on 7 February, 144,000 individuals have been forced to flee the outskirts of Goma. They have fled indiscriminate bombings that have impacted displacement sites and other civilian areas over the past few weeks, and which have resulted in the deaths of more than 20 civilians and injured more than 60.

While conflict around Sake rages, emboldened non-state armed groups have launched a horrific spate of targeted attacks against civilians this week in the Beni region of North Kivu, as well as in the Irumu Territory of Ituri Province. UNHCR’s protection monitoring teams have received reports of killings, kidnappings, and the burning of homes. UNHCR condemns these atrocities against civilians and displaced populations and urgently calls for a cessation of hostilities across the eastern provinces to safeguard civilian lives.

The plight of the newly displaced in eastern DRC is compounded by the pre-existing, pressing humanitarian situation. More than 7 million people remain displaced across the country, including half a million refugees. Those displaced contend with already high risks associated with inadequate shelters, poor sanitation facilities and limited income-generating opportunities.

UNHCR has successfully advocated with local authorities for the extension of two displacement sites on the periphery of Goma and, with other humanitarian agencies, plans to deliver shelter assistance to more than 911,000 people in need in 2024, nearly double the 500,000 of last year.

To address these and many other humanitarian needs in the DRC, the 2024 Humanitarian Response Plan was launched on 20 February, appealing for $2.6 billion to help some  8.7 million people in need across the country.

Additionally, UNHCR and its partners launched on 22 February a Regional Refugee Response Plan to provide critical protection and assistance to Congolese refugees in neighbouring countries. The plan requires $668 million to support nearly 1 million refugees and 1 million  host community members, the majority of whom are in Angola, Burundi,  the Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia.

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