UN warns of 'alarming levels of violence and civilian displacements' in Congo

UN warns of 'alarming levels of violence and civilian displacements' in Congo

DR Congo witnessing 'one of the most severe, complex and neglected humanitarian crises of our times,' says head of UN mission

By Merve Aydogan

HAMILTON, Canada (AA) - The UN on Monday warned of "alarming levels of violence and civilian displacements" in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

"The security situation in Eastern DRC has continued to deteriorate, reaching alarming levels of violence and civilian displacements," Bintou Keita, head of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), told the UN Security Council.

She expressed concern over the "rapid expansion" of the M23 rebel group in the country’s troubled North Kivu province, and the spillover into South Kivu.

Highlighting the role of the Rwandan government in bolstering M23’s territorial gains, Keita said: "The rapidly escalating M23 crisis carries the very real risk of provoking a wider regional conflict."

"We are witnessing in the DRC one of the most severe, complex and neglected humanitarian crises of our times," she said, adding that the increased violence is triggering "massive" displacements.

Keita stated that DRC currently has 7.3 million displaced people, with 6.9 million in the eastern provinces alone. She also emphasized that violations of international humanitarian law are hindering aid delivery and that the presence of heavy artillery around displacement camps is endangering lives.

She also reported a rise in gender-based violence, with 122,960 cases in 2023, a 3% increase from 2022.

"Female victims, including girls, accounted for almost 90 per cent of all cases, with incidents of sexual violence against children increasing by 40%," she said, adding that "2024 risks becoming another record year."

The UN's humanitarian plan for the DRC requires $2.6 billion to assist 8.7 million crisis-affected people, but as of mid-June, it was only 26% funded, according to Keita.

The MONUSCO called on UN members states and regional organizations to intensify their efforts to alleviate humanitarian suffering and address the root causes of the conflict.

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