Escalating violence, displacement and disrupted aid routes are threatening to engulf hundreds of thousands of civilians in worsening DR Congo conflict, warns World Vision.

photo of internal displaced people in Kasha camps
Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The international aid agency fears fighting in eastern DR Congo could spiral out of control, deepening an ongoing humanitarian crisis, as rebel group M23 advances toward Goma, the capital of North Kivu Province. The upsurge in fighting has already forced more than 100,000 people, half of them children, to flee within just a few days. Urgent humanitarian aid is critically needed to meet the needs of newly displaced people.

The city of Goma – currently under government control and a hub for aid agencies – is now increasingly isolated and at risk of coming under siege from armed fighters.  At least 130,000 people have already fled fighting, most of them from Sake some 25km from Goma, moving by foot, truck and motorbike to Goma or south to Bukavu.  Following the closure of the main road into the city from the west, humanitarian access to the displaced is becoming increasingly challenging due to the violence.  Hundreds of thousands of people, from current and past conflicts, could now lose access to essential aid and find themselves on the frontlines of this new upsurge in violence.

Women and children are the most at risk of sexual violence, exploitation, and recruitment into armed groups.

“We saw women arriving in Goma from Sake and Masisi in panic because, in the chaos of fleeing, they had become separated from their children. My heart breaks when I see youngsters arriving in overcrowded camps after walking for days. They told us that they had fled their homes without taking anything because shells were hitting their homes, killing and injuring civilians,” said David Munkley, World Vision’s Zonal Director for east DRC.

“The escalating violence in Masisi and Rutshuru territories has further exacerbated this humanitarian crisis, with thousands of civilians displaced and in urgent need of shelter, food, and medical care. World Vision is on the ground and providing aid to those in need, but more emergency aid is urgently needed to address this growing crisis.”

Since the resurgence of fighting between the DRC army and armed opposition forces, World Vision has been meeting the needs of displaced people who have arrived in Goma. With the World Food Programme’s support, World Vision has distributed energy biscuits to more than 40,000 people, but much more is needed.

The international community must act swiftly. World Vision calls on governments, humanitarian agencies, and local communities to collaborate to address the needs of women and children and urges all parties to the conflict to protect women, children and civilians.

Spokespersons are available from the DR Congo and response operations.  Please contact: Patrick Abega, Communications Manager, DRC at: