Eastern DR on the Brink: Escalating Violence Threatens Millions with Humanitarian Crisis

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) eastern region hangs in the balance as escalating violence pushes vital aid delivery to the brink of collapse, jeopardizing the lives of millions.

The recent advance of armed groups towards Sake, a key link to Goma, threatens to isolate the city of over 2 million, including hundreds of thousands displaced by conflict. This isolation would cripple the humanitarian response, leaving countless vulnerable individuals without access to essential food, water, healthcare, and sanitation.

“The safety of civilians must be paramount,” urges Eric Batonon, NRC’s country director in DRC. “Attacks on civilians, including women, children, and the elderly, are unacceptable and must stop.”

The situation is dire. Over 1 million people have been displaced since November 2023, with 135,000 fleeing towards Goma in just the first week of February. Existing camps like Rusayo 1 are overwhelmed, with 18,000 arrivals in a single weekend straining resources beyond capacity. Water supplies are critically low, and sanitation facilities are woefully inadequate.

“The humanitarian response was already on a precarious footing,” warns Batonon. “With roads cut off and fighting intensifying, getting basic necessities like food to displaced people is a major challenge.”

Beyond Goma, renewed violence in Masisi has trapped over 630,000 displaced individuals without access to aid for over a week. Schools, repurposed as shelters, deprive children of education, compounding the crisis.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) calls for immediate action:

  • Prioritize civilian protection: All parties to the conflict must uphold their obligations under international law and end attacks on civilians.
  • Facilitate unhindered aid access: Humanitarian organizations need unimpeded access to deliver life-saving assistance to affected populations.
  • Swift international intervention: The international community must act urgently to avert a catastrophic humanitarian crisis and alleviate the suffering of millions caught in the crossfire.

With millions of lives hanging in the balance, the time for action is now. The international community must step up and ensure that essential aid reaches those in need, preventing the eastern DRC from plunging into an even deeper abyss of suffering.