Violence since March has displaced at least 158,000 people in North Kivu province, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), UN Humanitarians said on Thursday.
Most of the displaced are women and children from the Rutshuru and Nyiragongo territories in North Kivu, along the border with Uganda and Rwanda, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The office said local authorities reported that at least 13 civilians, including four children, were killed during fighting in Rutshuru earlier this week. Several villages in the territory are empty. The displaced are sheltering in churches, schools and other makeshift areas, with several thousand others taken in by host families.
Despite access and funding constraints, humanitarian interventions by UN agencies and nongovernmental organization partners continue in the Rutshuru and Nyiragongo territories. Food has been distributed, and health, water and sanitation services made accessible since March. Humanitarians are working to step up aid distribution.
“This crisis is compounding an already fragile humanitarian situation in North Kivu and other eastern provinces, such as Ituri and South Kivu,” said OCHA. “To date, the humanitarian appeal for the DRC is only 20 percent funded.”
The resurgence of the M23 armed group, also known as the Congolese Revolutionary Army, in March poses a major security threat to North Kivu.