Saidi Olivier (second adult from left), 39, was displaced from Mutarungwa village to Mpati IDP settlement in July 2016. He arrived to Mpati with his wife Nyirarukundo Anonciate, 39, and their five children. Photo: NRC/Christian Jepsen

DR Congo has world’s highest number of people fleeing conflict internally

NRC and IDMC|Published 22. May 2017
Over 922,000 people were forced to flee their homes inside the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2016. This was the highest number of internal displacement due to conflict recorded globally, and was one of the most startling findings of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre’s global report which was launched in New York today.

“DRC’s largely forgotten crisis in central Africa superseded all other crises in terms of the number of people forced to flee their homes,” said Ulrika Blom, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Country Director in DRC. “Even Syria or Yemen’s brutal wars did not match the number of new people on the move in DRC last year.”

“Certain countries drop off the international agenda only to re-emerge a few years later with significant numbers of new displacements,” said Alexandra Bilak, Director of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). “This was the case for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which highlights how the failure to address the underlying causes of conflict and crisis results in cyclical patterns of displacement.”

Gadi Alfine, 13, has lived in Mpati IDP settlement for three years alongside her three siblings and her mother. Her father passed away many years ago. Photo: Christian Jepsen/NRC. March 2017.

The new IDMC report found that political insecurity in DRC aggravated long-standing ethnic tensions and clashes between armed groups last year, particularly in North and South Kivu provinces in the east of the country.

Of the 3.7 million displaced people overall, over 1 million are newly displaced since the start of 2017 after violence clashes in Kasai province. Over half the rest of the people displaced are in North Kivu (837,000) and South Kivu (387,000).

“DRC is the world’s most forgotten crisis,” said Blom. “Humanitarian needs here are immense. But despite over 7 million people needing aid, the US$813 million international aid appeal is only 20 per cent funded.”

dr congo mapMap: IDMC


Twenty years of armed conflict and inter-communal violence has pushed millions of people into vulnerability, faced to fight off food insecurity, malnutrition and epidemic outbreaks.

Communities in North Kivu province, for example, have been left with acute needs. Raids and communal clashes between armed groups in Walikale and Lubero territories forced nearly 373,000 people to flee their homes, making up 42 per cent of the province’s displaced population at the end of 2016.

NRC is concerned by the UN mission in DRC, MONUSCO, reducing its presence in some territories. As such, it is crucial now more than ever that humanitarian agencies are able to step up efforts to ensure that displaced families are fully protected. “Unless we properly define who and how we can protect civilians after the UN mission scales down, DRC’s people will be plunged deeper into crisis,” warned Blom.



  • 2.2 million people are internally displaced, and over 550,000 people have fled the country as refugees.

  • 7.3 million of DRC’s 92 million people are estimated to need humanitarian aid.

  • 1 in 10 people in eastern DRC was displaced in the past decade.

  • Life expectancy is only 58 years.

  • On average 1 in 10 children die before their 5th birthday.

  • DRC ranks 176 of 188 on the world’s human development index.

  • DRC is among the last 10 per cent of the least developed countries in the world, according to United Nations Development Programme.