Last week, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees acknowledged that rising violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has caused 7,000 people to flee to Burundi and 1,200 people to flee to Tanzania. It appears that these individuals decided to escape the area because of fear of forced recruitment, direct violence and abuse by armed groups, according to spokesperson Babar Baloch.
It is pertinent to note that the substantial food insecurity within the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been largely caused by the procurement of conflict in previously stable areas such as Kasai and Tanganyika. The quantity of people that are struggling with extreme hunger has increased from 2 million, over the last 6 months, to almost 8 million which is 10% of the population. Indeed, torture, rape and murder are widespread within the Democratic Republic of the Congo and international aid organizations have limited funding to deal with the crisis.
Conflict is particularly embellished within the south and east of the country, where thousands have died and millions have been displaced. Floods and health problems such as cholera have only further precipitated general uncertainty within the country. The devastation has even extended to United Nations personnel – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres confirmed in December that fifteen of them were recently murdered by militants in North Kivu.
Political unrest has unravelled across the country over the recent months in particular, because President Joseph Kabila decided that he would not step down at the end of his term in December. Many have consequently been killed in demonstrations in the capital Kinshasa. However, on Wednesday the Minister of Communications Lambert Mende suggested to the media that Kabila will not run in the elections that will be held in 2018. It is possible that a new presidential mandate will push the elites within the Democratic Republic of the Congo to form a new grand bargain that may help to reduce instability and rejuvenate the economy in the wake of the recent planned mining deal.
On a broader level, the International Organisation of Migration has only pulled together $3.5 million of the $75 million of funds that it set out to gather as part of an appeal that was started in December. As such, the needs of the displaced Congolese will only be met if the international community recognises that there is a funding crisis and upholds its collective obligation to reduce the scourge of human insecurity that exists within the country.
The increase in sexual violence against women and girls is also a problem that needs to be acknowledged and addressed. UNICEF recently pronounced that children in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been sexually abused and then sent to fight on behalf of the nation.
In 2018 the world is facing an unprecedented set of challenges such as the ever-growing threats of climate change, nuclear proliferation, terrorism and a reduction in humanity’s faith in democracy. The pillars of social and economic development can be sustained in an age of globalization in part if divergent political interests seek to come together and increase aid to solve humanitarian crises – whether in Syria, Yemen or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The safety of the world is at stake.
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