Aid Agencies Struggle As Democratic Republic of Congo Spirals Into Uncontainable Humanitarian Crisis


On the 13th March 2018, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General acknowledged humanitarian aid needs have doubled in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since 2017. Political deadlock continues over current leader Kabila’s overstayed political term and has spurred ethnic conflict and further militia uprising, causing the humanitarian crisis to worsen.

The United Nations reported, since August 2016 citizens in areas of Kasai, South Kuvi and Tanganyaki have been facing turmoil that has resulted in 4.1 million internally displaced people. Rising inflation and decline in farming supply have also created food insecurity for 7.7 million people in the DRC. Furthermore, Congolese are being forced to flee their homes. Women and children are especially vulnerable in this situation to sexual violence, torture and abuse and there are rising cases of the disease Fistula due to these circumstances. Women supporting children are unable to provide food, shelter and clothing, and malnutrition is causing outbreaks of malaria and cholera. The outbreak of disease and lack medical attention is exacerbated by struggling aid agencies and at the worst have resulted in deaths.

In the DRC, the United Nations Organization Mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) have been doing their best to protect affected provinces. However, the violence cannot be contained, and aid agencies are not also able to keep up the support to those facing food insecurity and disease. Humanitarian aid agencies in 2017 appealed for $812.5 million dollars to provide to the DRC, but only half of this appeal was achieved and resulted in medical and food supplies not reaching all civilians in need. In 2018 the appeal has been increased to $1.68 billion dollars to support the 10.5 million people in need. The increase in the requested funding for aid emphasizes that the situation in DRC is worsening with the Norwegian Refugee council state that the situation in “DRC is spiraling to the point of ‘uncontrollable’ as it spreads to peaceful regions.”

The UN Under-secretary-general reiterated that increased aid supplies need to be prioritized for the DRC crisis. But it cannot be forgotten that a long-term political resolution to restore peace is also needed. There is a need for a stable government that is adequately advised on how to control and meet to needs of its citizens. Elections are due to be held in December 2018 but these need to be brought forward and held under fair electoral conditions. A re-election along with guidance by the United Nations could potentially help the instability and return the DRC to a controllable and equally-represented state. It would also hopefully ensure that humanitarian aid can continue to those in need and its uses become more effective, further supporting the return of peace to the DRC.

This could be the start of a solution, but it must be noted that the grievance and conflict within DRC provinces has evolved from political unrest to ethnic conflict due to the time it has had to manifest. The situation is complex, but there is no doubt that a non-corrupt, effective democratic government is needed to alleviate the DRC. Without this effective change, political conflict will continue, aid agencies will be under continued strain, and suffering will stretch further. The numbers of refugees and internally displaced Congolese people will continue to rise, pushing the country into the historical turmoil they hoped they would never have to witness again.