Over 4.5 million displaced in DR Congo since last quarter of 2017

More than 4.5 million people have been displaced in the Democratic Republic of Congo since the last quarter of 2017 due to violence carried out by armed groups, the United Nations said on Friday.

The world agency also said that a lack of funding and access to the areas affected has meant that majority of those displaced are yet to be reached with aid.

The UN noted that it needed more funding soon in order to avert  unnecessary deaths and suffering.

“Some funding has come in but not nearly enough to meet the critical needs of millions in the DRC,” Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in the DR Congo, Jean-Philippe Chauzy, said.

IOM says their most basic needs like food and shelter are not being met because no humanitarian actors have yet to reach the areas where displaced people are arriving.

In the Beni Territory of North-Kivu, attacks by armed groups displaced more than 2,200 people from their homes in the first week of February alone. This is in addition to the 1,500 people who were displaced at the end of January. As of mid-February, more than 12,000 displaced people were sheltering in that locality.

In the Djugu Territory, just south of North-Kivu, inter-ethnic violence between Hema and Lendu groups is flaring up, with 28,634 people fleeing burning villages to Bunia, Ituri’s provincial capital, in the last couple of weeks.

The DR Congo has been dogged by violence for years, but the unrest heightened in November 2016 following a failure by President Joseph Kabila to step down at the end of his term.

The UN said that the Kasai region, largely considered the epicenter of the violence, has a population of about 1.3 million internally displaced people.

A funding conference is scheduled to be held on 13 April to obtain more funds to go towards the provision of humanitarian assistance to those displaced in the country.