United Nations humanitarian agencies and their partners need to scale up aid to remote eastern and north-eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a senior United Nations official said today, warning that as many as 1.7 million people remain displaced from their homes and in fear of daily attacks from armed groups.
Assistant Secretary-General Catherine Bragg, who is the UN's Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, wrapped up a five-day visit to the DRC in which she met Government officials, UN peacekeepers, aid workers and many Congolese who have had to flee their homes because of insecurity.
Ms. Bragg said the large numbers of displaced in the east and northeast of the DRC fear attacks from armed groups who continue to kill, maim, rape, kidnap, loot and burn down houses. While some people feel safe enough to return to their homes, others are being freshly displaced.
“Those who are being displaced are in the most remote areas, often living in isolated communities where there is little Government presence,” Ms. Bragg told a press conference in Kinshasa, the Congolese capital.
“Access to this population is difficult because of physical obstacles, including lack of roads, as well as insecurity.”
Ms. Bragg travelled to the north-eastern town of Dungu, where thousands of people are living in camps because of the violence of armed groups, particularly the notorious Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).
“The isolation of many of the affected villages is a major challenge. We need to do more but also need to transform their daily reality. This requires the continuation of the provision of humanitarian aid, a level of protection afforded by the presence of humanitarian organizations, the work done by the peacekeepers, and the Congolese army.”
The Assistant Secretary-General called for better coordination between humanitarian agencies, development agencies and those involved in stabilizing the country, such as the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO).
But she noted that the humanitarian support plan for the DRC has received only 41 per cent of its target funding, and she called on the international community to increase its support.
“The survival of almost two million IDPs, many more returnees and others largely depends on international assistance.”