DRC humanitarian needs double, UN relief chief tells Security Council
Humanitarian needs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have doubled over the past year, with 13 million people now needing assistance, the UN Security Council heard on Monday.
Ambassadors were briefed by Mark Lowcock, the UN’s top aid official, who called for urgent action to address the situation.
The Humanitarian Coordinator together with Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag visited the DRC last week, where 4.5 million citizens are displaced while roughly as many children are acutely malnourished.
“We are seeing mushrooming epidemics including the worst outbreak of cholera in 15 years. There is also an epidemic of sexual violence, most of it unreported and unaddressed, and much of it against children. And almost 746,000 Congolese have fled to neighboring countries, while the DRC itself hosts more than 540,000 refugees. Without a halt to the violence, Mr. President, and a successful political transition, these numbers will all increase.”
The UN and its partners are appealing for $1.7 billion to support the country this year, which Mr. Lowcock said is nearly four times the amount secured in 2017.
However, as underfunding is the major impediment to aid operations there, he urged Governments to support a humanitarian conference to be held in Geneva on 13 April.
Excessive use of force against DRC protestors “unlawful”: UN report
In more news from the DRC:
At least 47 people, including children, were killed by the country’s security forces during demonstrations over the past year.
That’s according to a joint report issued on Monday by the UN human rights office and the UN Mission in DRC, MONUSCO.
It finds the right to freedom of peaceful assembly was “severely restricted and often violently suppressed” — a trend that has continued so far this year.
Citizens in the DRC have been taking to the streets to protest the delayed presidential election.
The vote was originally slated for December 2016 but is due to take place at the end of this year.
The UN report is based on information collected during six main days of protest between 1 January 2017 and 31 January 2018.
While most demonstrators were peaceful, the authors said some people brandishing sticks and broomsticks “did attempt to perpetrate violence during some protests”.
They added that “the use of excessive force — including lethal force — by the authorities was thus unlawful, unjustified and disproportionate”.
Leila Zerrougui, the UN representative in the DRC, and UN Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein are urging the Government to allow citizens to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and expression.
The UN officials warned that repression “would only breed frustration”, which also could threaten the electoral process.
Violence forces 10,000 to flee Ethiopia for Kenyan border town: UNHCR
Nearly 10,000 people fleeing violence in Ethiopia have arrived in Kenya over the past week, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has reported.
The asylum seekers, who include more than 600 expectant mothers, have settled in the border town of Moyale, where they are staying in two makeshift camps.
UNHCR said the people ran from the Oromia region of Ethiopia, scene of previous protests and violence.
The arrivals alleged that soldiers had attacked their villages, killing 13 people.
The majority of those who have fled, or 80 per cent, are women and children, nearly 1,500 of whom are under the age of 5.
UNHCR is providing the people with blankets, plastic sheets, tarpaulin, kitchen sets, and other items to meet their immediate needs.
The agency is also assisting the Kenyan Government with registering the asylum seekers as assessments are being made to determine action to take in the long term.