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2.6 million people in urgent need of humanitarian aid in North Kivu

Emergency Health Rehabilitation
Democratic Republic of Congo

With the escalation of violence and insecurity in North Kivu, the humanitarian needs of the population are growing by the day. HI is helping to provide emergency assistance.

A line of trucks displaying the HI and EU logos moves along a road. At the side of the road, many people on motorcycles or on foot carrying packages or watching the trucks go by.

Transporting humanitarian supplies to Rutshuru territory, 14 February 2024 | © HI

Civilians, the principal victims of the violence

At the end of 2023, the Democratic Republic of Congo had already registered some 7 million internally displaced people in the country1, many of them living in its eastern provinces. Since November 2023, fighting between the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the fighters of the March 23 Movement (M23) has intensified further, reaching catastrophic proportions. This is particularly the case in the towns of Mweso and Katsiru in Masisi territory and, more recently, around the town of Sake, just 25 km from Goma.

The use of heavy artillery and mortars in densely populated areas, such as the outskirts of the city of Goma, has caused extensive damage. Civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, schools and camps for displaced people are being directly targeted and hundreds of people have already lost their lives in the fighting. To escape the violence and insecurity, almost 215,000 people have been displaced since the start of the year, joining the 500,000 displaced people already living in the areas around Goma2. Today, 2.6 million people in North Kivu are in need of humanitarian assistance3.

In this context, humanitarian needs are critical among populations who no longer have any shelter, income or access to healthcare, yet violent clashes along the main roads are seriously restricting access to displaced people, preventing the deployment of humanitarian aid.

"Some roads are regularly blocked by clashes between armed groups, hindering humanitarian access and cutting civilians off from vital support. Hundreds of thousands of people are in urgent need of water, food, medicines and healthcare," says Olivier Terzolo, HI's Country Director in the DRC.

Providing urgent humanitarian aid

Zaina IDP camp, Sake, North Kivu. Given the level of violence, HI has had to suspend some of its activities in Mweso and Sake in order to evacuate its teams and move them to safety. However, there are still teams providing rehabilitation services and mental health support in different sites around the city of Goma, home to hundreds of thousands of displaced people. Through these operations, underway since September 2022, teams were able to deliver care to more than 2,700 patients and carry out 342 physical and functional rehabilitation interventions in 2023, including the provision of mobility aids, prosthetic devices and education in good rehabilitation practices through exercises and advice given to patients and their caregivers.

"Many displaced people have been victims of violence and experienced traumatic events before or during their flight. When they arrive in the camps, they need medical care and psychosocial support," explains Olivier.

Drawing on its experience and logistical expertise in the DRC, HI is also continuing to transport humanitarian goods on behalf of other NGOs to ensure lifesaving aid reaches the displaced populations in North Kivu. Between October 2023 and February 2024, more than 500 tonnes of equipment and humanitarian goods were transported by HI in 70 trucks, covering more than 4,200 km. This equipment was destined for 12 NGOs operating in 10 areas of North Kivu.

"The security and humanitarian situation has deteriorated considerably in North Kivu. IDP sites around Goma have been affected, undermining the protection of displaced populations and HI's access to them. Therefore, we are asking that passage and unhindered access for humanitarian personnel be guaranteed and that the civilian status of IDP sites be respected," concludes Olivier.

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