On the outskirts of Nyunzu village in eastern Congo, stands a small thatched roof church. A hundred men, women and children huddle together inside, sheltering from torrential monsoon rains. 

Families live on top of each other in appalling squalor. The raw coughs of children are muffled by the rain spitting through the roof. They sleep rough on wet soil, thinly covered by empty sacks of sugar. 

Four people have died since the group fled to this church for safety in September, including two children. This scene is replicated in countless churches across Congo, as a little known conflict is tearing the central African nation apart.

An upsurge in violence in several parts of DR Congo in 2016, has left over 1.7 million people to flee their homes this year alone; that’s over 5,500 people per day. 

This week the DR Congo was declared the worst affected by displacement in the world by the global analysts, IDMC. Tanganyika province, is one of the hotspots of the current crisis.

Despite the UN putting the world on notice about Congo’s crisis, little has changed since October. Money has only trickled in to help the 13 million people in need. Today the country is the second lowest funded of the world’s largest crises - less than half of the US$812 million aid appeal is funded. 

The violence has prevented many families from accessing land and maintaining their livelihoods. 7.7 million people are severely food insecure, up 30 per cent in a year. Lack of access to clean water has led to a cholera outbreak that has killed some 600 people.

Photos: NRC/Christian Jepsen 
Date: 1 December 2017
Read caption On the outskirts of Nyunzu village in eastern DR Congo, stands a small thatched roof church. A hundred men, women and children huddle together inside, sheltering from torrential monsoon rains. Four people have died since the group fled to this church for safety in September, including two children. This scene is replicated in countless churches across DR Congo, as a little known conflict is tearing the central African nation apart. Photo: Christian Jepsen/NRC

DR Congo mega crisis forcing millions to flee

Published 06. Dec 2017
Nowhere have more people been forced to flee in the first six months of this year than in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo), according to a major report released today by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

“It’s a mega crisis. The scale of people fleeing violence is off the charts, outpacing Syria, Yemen and Iraq,” said the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) Country Director in DRC, Ulrika Blom.

Figures released today by IDMC’s new Africa report reveal a grim reality inside the country. Over 1.7 million people have fled their homes so far this year because of insecurity, according to the United Nations  – an average of over 5,500 people per day. This brings the total number of people displaced to over four million.

“For the second year running, DR Congo is the country worst affected by conflict displacement in the world. Communities in DR Congo are being double pounded - by brutal conflict and a worsening political crisis,” said Blom.

The main reasons for the rise in displacement include new armed conflicts, and a rise in existing conflict in volatile areas. The IDMC report points to delays in holding presidential elections as part of the reason for the upsurge in violence.

Kivu, Kasai and Tanganyika provinces are the current epicentres of the violence in the country.

“What we’ve seen firsthand in Tanganyika province is beyond horrifying. Last week we found a church sheltering over 80 people who’d fled attacks in September - families piled together in absolute squalor. Children sleeping on wet soil, thinly covered by empty sugar sacks. Four people have died since this community arrived, including two children,” said Blom.

The violence has prevented many families from accessing land and maintaining their livelihoods. Some 7.7 million people are severely food insecure, up 30 per cent in a year. A lack of access to clean water has led to a cholera outbreak that has killed some 600 people.

Despite the UN activating its highest Level 3 emergency for the country in October, little money or resources have trickled in to respond to the crisis. Today, DR Congo is the second lowest funded of the world’s biggest crises. Less than half of the USD 812 million needed to help 8.5 million people has been received so far.

“Donor fatigue, geopolitical disinterest and competing crises have pushed DR Congo far down the list of priorities for the international community. This deadly trend is at the expense of millions of Congolese. If we fail to step up now, mass hunger will spread and people will die. We are in a race against time,” said Blom.

Note to editors
  • NRC has spokespeople in DR Congo available for interview in English, French and Swedish.
  • High quality photos of Tanganyika are available to use here
  • Video of displaced communities and b-roll of Tanganyika is available here.
  • IDMC is part of the Norwegian Refugee Council. The full IDMC report can be downloaded here.

For more information, please contact:

  • In DR Congo:
    Kimberly Bennett, Protection and Advocacy Adviser 
    kimberly.bennett@nrc.no 
    +243 812 408 612
  • Global:
    Media hotline
    info@nrc.no
    +47 905 62329
Note to editors