Crisis Mounts in DRC: 200,000 Displaced in Past 10 Days

M23 rebel group seizes Goma and surrounding towns; Action Against Hunger plans large-scale emergency response
An ACF beneficiary in DRC.
Children like this little Congolese girl desperately need our help. Photo: ACF-DRC, S. Vidyarthi

Imagine fleeing violence in your home city and settling in a camp for displaced citizens. If that fate isn’t difficult enough, imagine the area around the camp then being seized by members of a rebel group, forcing you back, homeless, to your city of origin where there is no power and virtually no access to water. This scenario isn’t a bad dream. It’s the reality being faced by residents who originally hail from Goma, a city in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

In the past week, a rebel group known as M23 seized Goma, and a handful of nearby towns and has threatened to escalate its activites. M23’s pursuits have long plagued eastern DRC, with rebel-related violence displacing some 650,000 people earlier this year between April and October. But recent events have been catastrophic in scale, with another 200,000 people displaced in the past ten days alone.

When violence erupts, Action Against Hunger‘s first priority is to ensure the safety and welfare of our field staff, in addition to continuing our lifesaving programs where possible. While the current crisis is very much in flux, security concerns and travel restrictions place limits on many of our operations, but we are also hard at work assessing new needs and developing plans to respond as soon as the security climate allows it.

In recent months we have been providing emergency relief to more than 190,000 people displaced between DRC’s North Kivu (of which Goma is provincial capital) and South Kivu provinces. There is a critical need to expand our emergency programs from our bases in Shabunda, Minova, and Bunyakiri in response to the influx of newly displaced populations – from emergency water, sanitation and hygiene activities to ensuring adequate supplies of ready-to-use therapeutic food products like Plumpy’nut so we can manage malnutrition among the most vulnerable.

We need and profoundly appreciate your assistance in helping so many in DRC escape a tragic fate. According to a UN Situation Report, only 57% of the funds requested by the humanitarian community for relief efforts in DRC in 2012 have been raised – and that was before this current crisis came to be. Please help, and do stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks, outlining the specific nature of our response.

In the meantime, take a few minutes to inform yourself about the deep nature of the DRC crisis. The New York Times is providing outstanding coverage from expert Africa correspondent Jeffrey Gettleman, and his photographer colleague Jehad Nga has been taking moving photos (see a sample below). CNN has also published provocative commentary on the need for increased attention on this crisis, written by a DRC national.

New York Times Slideshow on the M23 situation in DRC

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About Elisabeth Anderson Rapport

Elisabeth Anderson Rapport, Senior Communications Officer

Elisabeth is Action Against Hunger's senior communications officer, reporting on our impact and current events around the world.