Between conflict, poverty, malnutrition and frequent disease outbreaks, humanitarian needs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are among the highest in the world.
The 2021 UN’s Humanitarian Response Plan for the DRC required almost €2 billion to meet the needs of vulnerable people.
The EU continues to provide life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable, often people displaced by conflict or epidemics.
What are the needs?
People in the DRC have been facing persistent conflict and violence for decades. Leaving their homes behind, the most vulnerable are forced to look for safety in overcrowded family homes, makeshift camps, schools or churches, and to restart their lives repeatedly.
There are currently over 5.6 million displaced people within the DRC – the highest number in Africa. More than 900,000 Congolese refugees live in neighbouring countries. Given the instability in the region, the DRC itself hosts more than half a million refugees from neighbouring countries.
Sexual and gender-based violence is widespread. Violations of human rights and international humanitarian law are reported regularly.
The ongoing violence and conflict also prevent people from accessing their fields and markets, generating food insecurity, displacement and more poverty.
Some 27 million people are acutely food insecure, more than a quarter of the population. Over 857,000 children are acutely malnourished and require treatment.
In addition, the DRC faces recurrent epidemics, such as cholera, measles and Ebola. Its weak health system and lack of basic infrastructure and social services, including in the health sector, add to the challenge.
The COVID-19 pandemic reached the DRC in March 2020. Natural hazards, such as the volcanic eruption of Mount Nyiragongo in 2021, create additional suffering and needs.
How are we helping?
In 2022, the EU allocated €44 million in humanitarian funding to address the needs of the most vulnerable people in the DRC and the Great Lakes region.
Last year, we allocated over €70 million to support emergency humanitarian actions in the DRC. This amount does not even include bilateral humanitarian support by individual EU countries.
Most of the EU-funded humanitarian projects are helping vulnerable people in the east of the country, where persistent conflict is ongoing. The EU works with partners to:
- provide food assistance and nutrition, shelter, protection, emergency healthcare, including care for survivors of sexual violence
- improve water, sanitation and hygiene conditions
- ensure that children caught in humanitarian crises can go to school.
The EU’s support also allows humanitarian organisations with specific expertise in nutrition to work in areas that have alarming malnutrition levels, saving the lives of thousands of children.
In the face of the additional challenges brought about by COVID-19, EU-funded humanitarian projects in the DRC continue to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance for people in need.
Our humanitarian projects are also supporting the coronavirus response in terms of prevention and control measures, and access to quality health care, water, sanitation and hygiene.
When the COVID-19 pandemic reached the DRC in March 2020, 3 EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flights dispatched urgently required materials and humanitarian staff to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic.
In addition, the European Commission is providing €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems
Last updated: 16/02/2022
Picture: © Norwegian Refugee Council, 2020
Facts & figures
Nearly 19.6 million people need humanitarian assistance
5.6 million internally displaced people
More than 900,000 refugees from the DRC in neighbouring countries
527,000 refugees in the DRC
3.4 million children under 5 are malnourished
(UNOCHA, UNHCR, and UNICEF)
EU humanitarian funding:
€44 million in 2022.
Over €70 million in 2021