KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, 25 January 2014 –UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Operations Janet Lim, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Yoka Brandt, and WFP Assistant Executive Director, Ramiro Lopes da Silva, on a visit in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from 21-25 January, called on the international community to sustain support to the country’s large-scale humanitarian crisis.
“We are united by the goal of responding to the needs of the most vulnerable in the DRC” said Mrs. Brandt. “Significant progress towards peace has been made.” declared the UNICEF Deputy Executive Director. ”However, the situation is complex and children and women continue to be displaced by vio-lence. Increased international support is necessary to cover their basic needs, such as access to safe and clean water and nutrition assistance”.
According to Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 2.9 million people are currently displaced by conflict within DRC, with more than 60% of these in North and South Kivu. Important steps towards peace have been made, but armed groups have beset eastern DRC for many years. Increasing global attention to the ongoing humanitarian crisis is at the heart of the High-Level Joint Visit to the country, as needs are substantial and resources limited.
Together, the senior UN officials visited South Irumu in Province Orientale, where fighting between the Congolese army and militia groups has displaced an estimated 120,000 people since August 2013. After meeting displaced people and host communities in a makeshift site near Lagabo, Ituri district, Mr. Lopes da Silva said, “Insecurity has disrupted the livelihoods of these people, and we are committed to continue supporting them, both in the areas where they seek refuge as well as back in their communi-ties once they feel that conditions are in place for them to return. In the meantime we will continue to advocate on their behalf to donor governments for adequate resources to be made available”.
The three senior UN officials also visited programmes in the Mungunga III camp near Goma and met the DRC authorities, humanitarian partners and people affected by the conflict. Their common objective is to discuss challenges and explore opportunities to strengthen the humanitarian response of the three agencies and their partners.
“People in some parts of the country continue to suffer and are being displaced because of violence. We need the support of the Congolese authorities, civil society, humanitarian organizations, the development sector and donor countries to consolidate the recent progress towards peace and stability throughout the country and to put a total end to conflict and displacement”, said Mrs. Lim.
Insecurity in the east of the country, including Katanga, has caused repeated population displacements. It is estimated that about half of internally displaced people (IDPs) are children. The province of Equateur, where peace is being restored after inter-ethnic clashes in 2009 and 2010, forced 200,000 people to flee their homes, now hosts more than 50,000 refugees from war-torn Central African Re-public.
The three agencies’ representatives visit the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of a joint effort to identify and strengthen synergies in contexts where all three are operational, and to draw lessons and advice for other situations. As part of this initiative, senior officials from the three agencies also led joint visits in Mauritania in November 2012 and Jordan/Lebanon in July 2013.
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