Democratic Republic of Congo

The Red Cross Red Crescent movement are supporting people to stay safe in the midst of ongoing conflicts

Last updated: 19 March 2024

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is challenged by a multitude of serious humanitarian crises, including alarming levels of food insecurity, cholera and Ebola outbreaks.

These crises are made worse by widespread violence from armed groups and intercommunal fighting, which has displaced over 7 million countrywide.

The British Red Cross is supporting the DRC Red Cross through these crises.


The situation in DRC

The military and security forces of the DRC and in some cases, troops from other countries, are engaged in several conflicts against non-state armed groups in eastern DRC, particularly in North Kivu and Ituri, and to a lesser extent, in South Kivu.

The fragmentation of non-state armed groups in the DRC, and fighting among them, is an additional complication. Many of these groups are competing for control of territory and resources.

In North Kivu, hostilities between the military and security forces of DRC and a non-state armed group called the March 23 Movement (M23) have intensified, particularly since October 2023. 

In recent weeks, there have been reports of shelling or the use of other heavy weapons in densely populated urban areas, such as Sake, and of violence around Goma, the provincial capital. 

Civilian casualties and other abuses have been reported. An increased influx of patients, including those wounded by weapons and shelling in urban areas, is straining the capacities of health facilities. 

An ICRC-supported hospital in Goma has reached more than double its normal capacity, from around 60 beds to 130. Tents have had to be set up as temporary facilities. 

Many of those displaced have had to flee empty-handed. The fighting puts them and communities hosting them, who may be impoverished themselves, at further risk of not having adequate food or access to essential services. The hostilities have limited the movement of people and goods, and existing infrastructure may be unable to cope with the sharp increase in needs. Some people have also been separated from their families while fleeing hostilities. 

The North Kivu crisis is occurring in parallel with numerous other armed conflicts in the DRC, which have combined to displace more than 7 million people countrywide. 

How the Red Cross Red Crescent movement is helping

With support from IFRC, DRC Red Cross launched an emergency appeal. They was one of the first partners to carry out assessments at various internally displaced peoples (ISP) shelter sites in Goma and Minova in South Kivu province.

Given its acceptability in the area occupied by armed groups, they organises logistics to support the Mweso, Kitshanga, and Rutshuru health centres.

The DRC Red Cross has an existing food security project and by December 2023, 18,454 households, including 11,158 IDPs. And the ICRC and the DRC Red Cross are preparing to distribute food and essential items to 17,000 other households that have recently been displaced to Goma or nearby areas.

As part of the UNICEF Rapid Response Project (UniRR) in North Kivu, the DRC Red Cross distributed essential household items and washing kits to displaced households. 

In North Kivu, 111 chlorination points were provided to combat epidemics such as cholera, Ebola, yellow fever, promotion of hygiene and basic sanitation, in 2023.

Two ICRC surgical teams will continue to operate on patients and provide technical support to staff at major hospitals in Goma and a third team has recently been deployed. More than 219 weapon-wounded people have been treated with the ICRC’s help since the beginning of 2024.

Up to two hospitals receiving wounded people, and two primary-health-care centres in areas to which displaced people have fled, will be provided with up to three-months’ worth of supplies, funding and other support. 

Up to six hospitals in the vicinity of Goma, and five primary-health-care centres serving displaced people, will receive one-off donations of supplies.

Up to three counselling centres in or near Goma will be provided with up to six-months’ worth of support, such as training and funding, for the provision of mental-health and psychosocial support.

Family-links services, including phone calls and tracing of missing persons, will continue to be provided by the DRC Red Cross, with technical and financial support from the ICRC.