Lamenting the immense suffering of the people in North Kivu and other parts of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where violence “has gone on for too long,” a senior United Nations relief official touring the region today called for an end to the fighting.
“The latest fighting on the outskirts of Goma shows how fragile the situation is in North Kivu,” Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-wha Kang said from strife-torn Goma, on the second day of her visit to the region.
“The immense suffering of the people in North Kivu and other parts of the DRC where violence continues has gone on for too long. It is time to end the horrors of this man-made emergency,” she declared.
Ms. Kang met with displaced people at Sotraki, a site near Goma, were some 3,000 people have sought refuge since fighting once again erupted between the Congolese Army (known as the FARDC) and the 23 March Movement (M23) armed rebels.
These newly-displaced people are the latest victims of a complex and protracted humanitarian crisis in eastern DRC that has taken countless lives and uprooted more than 3 million people.
While in Goma last week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged all the leaders of Africa’s Great Lakes region to throw their support behind a recently-signed peace accord which aims to ensure security, as well as development, for the long-troubled country.
“We have the best chance in many years to bring peace and calm to the region,” the UN chief said in remarks to the press referring to the landmark, UN-brokered Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region, that has been dubbed “the framework for hope” by Mary Robinson, Mr. Ban’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes.
Today, on the second-day of a four-day visit, Ms. Kang travelled to Goma to see for herself the impact of the humanitarian crisis in eastern DRC. “The killing of civilians by shelling last week is unacceptable and I call on all parties engaged in armed conflict to fully respect international humanitarian law,” she said.
“The path to lasting peace will be long, but we must remain hopeful and courageous,” she said.
Ms. Kang was accompanied by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in DRC, Moustapha Soumaré. They saw the work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), UN agencies and other humanitarian partners that are providing emergency aid to newly-displaced people.
In the capital, Kinshasa, where she began her trip on Monday, Ms. Kang held discussions with Government officials, NGOs and senior humanitarian officials on issues such as the protection of civilians, a more enabling environment for humanitarian actors, and the continued and heightened need for large-scale humanitarian response.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), North Kivu is home to some 973,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) – one third of the 2.6 million IDPs in the DRC. The multi-ethnic province, rich in mineral resources, has been the epicentre of a multifaceted-crisis for nearly two decades.
Many people have fled their homes on multiple occasions and are reliant on humanitarian aid – emergency shelter, food, water and sanitation – delivered by aid organizations in a tense security environment, while they wait for peace, OCHA states.