ICRC report on the humanitarian crisis in North Kivu (DRC)

ICRC report on the humanitarian crisis in North Kivu (DRC) © Photo by RollingEarth via Istock

ICRC report on the humanitarian crisis in North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo

According to the ICRC report, the humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has deteriorated dramatically in recent months due to armed conflict and other instances of violence, particularly in the eastern parts of the country. Fighting between armed forces and armed groups, in particular the Congolese army and the March 23rd Movement (M23), has increased in October 2023, causing deaths and injuries among civilians and massive population displacements, greatly reducing people's access to basic services. According to the UN, it is estimated that out of a total population of 113.6 million, more than 25.4 million people will need aid in 2024.

 

  • Increase in the number of injured

In 2023, more than 1,000 people injured by weapons, including nearly 200 women and 40 children under the age of 15, received treatment in ICRC-supported hospitals in North Kivu. This number is 60% higher than the previous year's total and the total for the last quarter of 2023 is 112% higher than the same period in 2022.
More than 75% of the patients admitted to Ndosho Hospital were injured by firearms.
Meanwhile, the percentage of blast injuries increased from 1.72% in 2022 to 7.18% in 2023.

The fighting in urban areas is causing countless civilian deaths and a lot of suffering, mainly due to the shelling of towns, villages and refugee camps, where most of the civilian population lives.
The use of high-impact explosive weapons - large bombs, missiles, rockets, mortars and artillery shells - often has indiscriminate effects, as these weapons are designed for open battlefields.

 

  • Health care in crisis

The violence perpetuated is destroying the health system, just when the population needs it most. Some of the wounded do not succumb to their injuries, but die because they cannot get the medical care they need in time. Entire communities no longer have access to vital services such as maternal health care, child care or vaccination campaigns. Sometimes the infrastructure is so badly damaged that it collapses altogether.
In 2024, the ICRC recorded numerous incidents where people's access to healthcare was violated. These are mainly acts of violence against health services, during which armed men break into facilities and health personnel are forced to violate medical ethics or other rules protecting the wounded and sick.
Increased fighting also hampers the supply of medicines and other medical supplies to hospitals in conflict zones; those facilities that are still able to function lack supplies and are struggling with the increasing number of displaced, sick and injured people.

 

  • Victims of sexual violence

Sexual violence in the context of armed conflict is a long-standing and persistent problem in the DRC. This form of violence has become commonplace, leading to the systematic rejection of victims by their communities.
According to the coordination group on gender-based violence in North Kivu, cases of violence against girls and women in the province increased by 37% in the first three months of 2023, compared to the same period in 2022.
There is also a severe lack of infrastructure and human resources to support victims. Despite the free medication-particularly the post-rape kit-provided to victims of sexual violence by the Ministry of Health, logistical problems of distribution of necessary supplies to health facilities and lack of safe access are major obstacles preventing victims from getting the care they need.
Preventing and remedying sexual violence is a key priority for the ICRC, which constantly reminds the parties to the conflict of their obligation to prevent sexual violence, which is a serious violation of international humanitarian law, and to prosecute and investigate such crimes are they have occurred.

 

  • Difficult situation of displaced people

With a total of seven million people internally displaced, in 2023 the DRC had the highest number of IDPs ever recorded, according to UN figures. At least 5.5 million people are displaced in the eastern parts of the country, including 2.5 million in North Kivu province alone.
While people tend to flee to Goma or other large cities, some are stranded in remote areas. Only 20% of the displaced arrive in camps where they can receive aid from humanitarian organisations, the rest are stranded due to logistical obstacles or lack of safe access.

 

  • Missing people

Large numbers of the civilian population have fled the violence in the east of the country and thousands of families have often been split up. Throughout the region, many people - especially unaccompanied children - need help to find and contact their families.
Over the past three years, some 2,400 people a year have contacted the ICRC for assistance in locating their loved ones, and about 80% were children.
There are, however, numerous problems in getting families to reconcile, ranging from a lack of accurate information on wanted persons, especially when requests are made by children, to the complex geography of the country and the unstable security situation in many areas.

 

 

  • Children recruited into armed forces or groups

There has been a marked increase in the recruitment of children during conflicts, with adolescents in particular being most at risk. In the DRC, over 1,100 such cases were confirmed by the UN between January and September 2023.
While many children were forcibly recruited, others joined voluntarily, as a means of survival or to defend their community.
Through its child protection programme, the ICRC supports those who have left armed forces and groups or those at risk of recruitment, helping them to access school or training.
This work is done in close cooperation with families and includes raising awareness of the problem of child recruitment within communities.

 

 

 

To know more, read:


https://www.icrc.org/en/document/democratic-republic-congo-forgotten-people-north-kivu

 

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