Millions of people caught up in a humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo are at risk of rising levels of hunger, death and disease due to a lack of aid funding, Oxfam and other humanitarian organizations warned ahead of a donor conference in Geneva today.
The UN appeal aims to raise $1.7 billion to help more than 10 million people in desperate need across the country – to date only 12 per cent of the appeal has been funded. Last year’s appeal for a smaller amount was poorly funded, forcing many agencies to cut back or discontinue the provision of clean water, food and safety for people forced to flee their homes due to violent conflict.
Jose Barahona, Oxfam’s Country Director in DRC, said: “The lack of funding forces us to make choices we shouldn’t have to make. We have had to limit our work to specific areas and we can only help a fraction of the people who desperately need it. In November 2017, in the conflict-ridden Kasaï provinces, we had to halve food rations to 90,000 people. Last month we had to restrict the rations even further with over a quarter of people receiving no food at all.
“Governments and international donors should learn from the past. Without sufficient aid, many Congolese people will not get the help they desperately need.”
A number of factors, including violent conflict and chronic poverty, have left an estimated 13 million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance – 5.6 million more than 2017.
In 2017, only 1.7 million people out of the 4.6 million in need of clean water and sanitation received help, leaving people drinking filthy water, defecating in the open and facing high risks of contracting water-borne diseases. Of the 4.1 million people who were acutely malnourished only 521,600 received treatment. Today 7.7 million people are suffering from acute hunger.
In the Kasaï provinces only 39 per cent of people needing aid received help between October 2017 and the end of January 2018. In Ituri, a province that borders Uganda, thousands of people are being forced from their homes by violence. Since December 2017, over 100 people have been killed as villages, schools and health centres have been burned.
The poor condition of roads means that in a country as big as Western Europe there is a huge delay and increased costs to reach areas in need. Insufficient funding for logistics and security limit the ability to deploy quickly. The UN’s fleet of helicopters, which are the often the only means to transport aid to some areas, may be cut due to decreased funding.