The crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is very complex and there was a dramatic deterioration of the humanitarian situation in 2017. Also declared level 3 emergency in Kasai, Tanganyika and south Kivu provinces. Due to armed conflicts and violence, population movement, sudden onset natural disasters and human rights violations the situation is getting worse. More than 13.1 million people need humanitarian assistance. 9.9 million people are starving and 4.6 million children are malnourished. Estimated total deaths of people are approximately 5 million. Increasing food insecurity, acute malnutrition and outbreaks of epidemics such as cholera and Ebola increase the mortality and morbidity among most vulnerable groups. The cycle of the crisis ongoing nonstop during the last two decades. Therefore, emergency response intervention to prevent the severity, combined stabilization and resilience are required.
The northern province of the country is mostly affected by CAR refugee influx and south Kivu by the Burundian refugee influx. Food insecurity, malnutrition, cholera, malaria and measles are very high in eastern provinces and central provinces in the country. Gender equality is very less and ranked 147 among 152 assessed countries. Due to structural challenges and poverty the central and western provinces included a vulnerable population group. Funding and efficient development processes are the prioritized to overcome from the situation. About 10 % of the estimated population in the country are affected by the humanitarian crisis and US$ 690 million is needed to implement the humanitarian response.
Risk and threats
Bad governance, unable to ensure the rule of law and order, negative external influences, dispute over the natural resources, land and market issues are the causes of violence. Nearly 70 armed groups in eastern DRC. They have distinct capacities and many people from foreign have political agenda of their country such as Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. Also, some armed groups with strong ethnic based profile, challenging each other. To secure their own profit neighboring countries, international economic operators and Congolese politicians may sponsor. Severe violation of human rights and law are characteristic of violence trends in DRC, the top major priority should be the protection of civil population. Ricing ethnic tensions and dissatisfaction with the government are the main causes of local insurgencies and violence outbursts. It is a huge challenge to provide safe access of humanitarian actors to beneficiaries and beneficiaries to humanitarian assistance. Domestic violence, sexual and gender -based violence remain factual reality girls and women live in eastern DRC. Inadequate emergency kits for rape survivors to prevent sexual transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies and lack of experts to heal trauma are the burning problems in Tanganyika province. In 2017 nearly 75 aid workers had been attacked by armed groups and insecurity of humanitarian workers also increased.
Forced internal displacements
Repeated forced displacement is a dramatic circumstance when their own village or district becomes unsafe. Approximately 1.3 million IDPs live with host families but the report explained 3000 new IDPs a day and only 20% of IDPs are on camp sites. The challenge is consolidated information and unreliable data collection which negatively effect on acute needs. Political tension, inter-ethnic violence erupted in Tanganyika and south Kivu in mid-2016 cause huge displacement. The complexity of this crisis is further increased by widespread food shortage and recent cholera and Ebola outbreaks.
Food insecurity and malnutrition
Currently, 4.4 million people are food insecure in DRC. Due to conflict seven territories are in the emergency red phase. 43% of children are stunted due to chronic malnutrition. Wasting is only 8% in national level, but it is classified under emergency level. 2 million children under 5 years are undernourished. The causes of malnutrition among children in DRC due to lack of drinkable water and sanitation facilities and health care, gender inequalities, poor diet habits with staple food cassava or maize. Central and western provinces of DRC malnutrition rates are high due to the absence of humanitarian actors.
In 2015, 36000 cholera cases were reported and 470 were deaths. Tanganyika, Katanga and Maniema provinces are the most affected area due to the Congo river pathway and the river polluted by mining activities. These provinces are not affected by major army conflicts. Nearly 10.5 million people are in need of medical assistance and 4.2 million people are at risk for epidemics. Absence of robust infrastructure is an acute challenge to humanitarian assistance organizations during cholera, measles, malaria and Ebola outbreaks.
DRC has the highest perceived level of corruption and lack of investment in key infrastructure may increase the prevalence of corruption. Majority of civilians are unable to access reliable transport, roads, waterways, bridges and air traveling also very limited. Humanitarian intervention is complex and expensive in DRC. Therefore, increasing funding is very important. Addressing basic needs and essential services and maintaining livelihood are the immediate improvement to do. Then promoting a protective environment and reducing risk of violence and established good governance are beneficial for vulnerable population. Long term structural assistance is necessary to future development of DRC.
Humanitarian ethics always make a universal claim about the profound value and radical equality of human life and the need to respect and protect it. Ethical Tensions in Humanitarian Aid are Boundary Problems that is the challenge of defining the field, Neo-Colonial Characteristics, Professionalizing Voluntarism, Individual Mixed Motives, Political Funding and Political Pressure, Collective Action and Competition.
In Conclusion, underpinning humanitarian action are several major principles of humanitarian law. They also provide some justification to relieve the civilian during conflicts, provide provisions of aid with impartiality and humanity without favoring one side of people during conflict thus strengthening neutrality. Today natural disasters and conflicts are increasing, and more humanitarian assistance is needed in future. Therefore, basic four principles become ever more important. Furthermore, to achieve 17 sustainable goals by 2030, humanitarian assistance in crises like man-made conflict or natural disasters in the most vulnerable population are very important.
By: Dt. Mayumi Gunathilake