Humanitarian workers distributing aid and supplies to people

Concern scales up response in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Concern Worldwide has scaled up its response in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where each day thousands of people are fleeing from the moving frontlines of a conflict involving multiple armed groups.

An escalation in fighting between non-state armed groups and Congolese armed forces around 12 miles from the city of Goma in the eastern region of the DRC has resulted in hundreds of thousands of people fleeing villages and towns in recent weeks. 

The increase in violence began in early February and has seen areas populated by civilians struck by artillery and mortar fire. 

“People are stuck very close to the front lines. They are afraid and have nowhere else to go,” said Concern’s DRC Country Director Antoine Sagot-Priez. 

“Access to those most in need is becoming more and more challenging. There are regular violations of international humanitarian law by different parties to the conflict, which is a major concern for the general population and for our staff in the field.

“Despite the difficulties, we have scaled up our emergency response to provide clean water and sanitation infrastructure, particularly around Goma, the capital of the North Kivu province in the east of the country, which is prone to cholera outbreaks.

“We are also organizing emergency distributions as part of our response to the growing need for food and basic items for displaced and host communities in the region.

“People are fleeing their homes with little or nothing and are worried about meals and safe places to sleep for them and their children. 

“Temporary displacement sites are frequently surrounded by armed groups and gunmen. In such a situation of violence and acute vulnerability, the risk of sexual abuse and exploitation is extremely high.

“We will keep working here with the support of our donors, but this is not business as usual in the DRC. We need people to know what is happening here.”

An estimated seven million people have been displaced from their homes in the DRC as a result of a number of conflicts in recent years.

Concern has been operating in the DRC since 1994 and responded to many emergencies in the country, including Ebola outbreaks.