UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is calling for urgent and enhanced measures to protect civilians in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where a series of recent attacks by an armed group has displaced nearly 20,000 people in North Kivu province.
Armed groups continue to devastate civilian lives despite DRC’s President Felix Tshisekedi launching a state of emergency on 6 May in North Kivu and its neighbouring Ituri province. The declaration was meant to halt violence perpetrated by armed groups and establish law and order in the region.
Since 22 June, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) are alleged to have brutally killed at least 14 people and injured many others in and around the city of Beni. Several properties were looted, and others burned to the ground. This was the first attack in two years by the ADF on the city, and the group’s resurgence is terrorizing the lives of inhabitants.
There is a sense of panic and anxiety among the community, as well as a lack of confidence in security forces given the high expectations of improved security conditions following the new measures. These recent attacks have forced thousands of people to flee their homes to seek safety in the eastern part of Beni, and are continuing to weaken and disrupt social, economic and educational activities.
Despite our best efforts, the humanitarian response in this part of the DRC is becoming worryingly over-stretched by the cumulative impact of multiple emergencies including the after-effects of the volcanic eruption of Mount Nyiragongo in Goma on 22 May.
Nearly two million people have been uprooted by insecurity and violence in North Kivu province alone over the past two years.
UNHCR and its partners are supporting local authorities to register forcibly displaced families and assess and respond to their needs. Despite dire conditions some of the displaced are slowly returning to their neighbourhoods.
More than 100,000 displaced people were assisted with emergency shelters in 2020 – and almost 14,000 so far in 2021 – but needs remain high as attacks by armed groups continue to displace people in the province, with many forced to flee multiple times. Women and children with particularly acute needs are being assisted with shelter, relief items and cash assistance.
We also continue to support local communities as important first responders to recurrent forced displacement. UNHCR partners are doing the vital work of documenting human rights violation.
More resources are urgently needed. UNHCR’s appeal for our DRC operations of US$ 205 million is only 36 per cent funded.