The conflict in the eastern province of North Kivu, DRC, between M23 rebels and government-backed militias has worsened since October. This conflict is causing massive displacement, and the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) is deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation.
- As of October 2023, the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the DRC has reached a record high of 6.9 million.
- This is a result of ongoing conflict and rising violence, creating one of the largest internal displacement crises globally.
Conflict in Eastern Provinces
- Most of the internally displaced people, about 5.6 million, are concentrated in the eastern provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri, and Tanganyika.
- Conflict is the main reason for this displacement, with up to one million people being forced to leave their homes in North Kivu due to the M23 conflict.
Accusations Against Rwanda
- The M23, which has been active since 2021, is accused by independent UN experts, the Congolese government, and Western nations like the United States and France of receiving support from Rwanda. Rwanda denies these allegations.
Growing Humanitarian Needs
- The deteriorating security situation, especially in North Kivu and Ituri, has led to more people being displaced, and their humanitarian needs are increasing rapidly.
- The UN’s humanitarian agency, OCHA, reports that almost 200,000 people have fled their homes since October 1 in the Rutshuru and Masisi territories, north of Goma.
- The IOM emphasizes that the Congolese people have endured a series of crises for decades, but the recent escalation in conflict has displaced people at an unprecedented rate.
Challenges and Limited Resources
- The DRC faces challenges in providing humanitarian access due to security concerns. Moreover, more than two-thirds of internally displaced people are staying with host families.
- The IOM is managing 78 displacement sites hosting over 280,000 people and providing mental health services for those facing psychological distress. However, they have received only $37 million of the $100 million needed for their operations in the DRC.
UN Peacekeeping Mission
- The United Nations peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO) has been in the DRC since 1999.
- It’s one of the largest and most expensive peacekeeping missions globally, with an annual budget of around $1 billion.
- However, it’s not popular among locals who believe it has failed to control violence, and the government wants MONUSCO to leave.