Refugees flee the fighting and violence in eastern DRC | Photo: EPA/Alain Wandimoyi
Refugees flee the fighting and violence in eastern DRC | Photo: EPA/Alain Wandimoyi

Hundreds of thousands of forcibly displaced people in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are living in dire conditions, unprotected and exposed to extreme human rights violations on a daily basis, according UN refugee agency UNHCR.

The UN agency released a statement regarding the situation in DRC on Tuesday. UNHCR said that about 300,000 people, mainly women and children, had been displaced "in the aftermath of a wave of brutal attacks in June 2019 by various armed groups in the country's Ituri and North Kivu provinces."

Prior to the attacks, an estimated four million people had already been displaced across DRC, according to the UN agency. That means that an estimated 10% of the global population of internally displaced people are located in DRC. 

'Killings, sexual violence and abductions persist'

Five months after the June attacks, UNHCR said, "killings, sexual violence and abductions persist amid continuing conflict." The agency explained: "Many women and children are still living in precarious conditions, sleeping in the open or in overcrowded public spaces further exposing them to risks of harassment, assault or sexual exploitation... In October alone, UNHCR staff recorded at least 1,000 human rights violations in the two eastern provinces. Civilians live in fear of death and destruction."

UNHCR also mentioned a recent example for the violence displaced people have to live with every day. The agency wrote: "On 30 October, a 38-year-old displaced man was killed by armed men in Djugu Territory, only one instance of incidents that take place on a near daily basis in this area." 

More resources needed 

"UNHCR has stepped up its response to the growing displacement crisis in eastern DRC, but needs additional resources to continue its support and improve conditions," the UN agency said. "We are deploying additional staff and have built communal hangars and emergency family shelters to help keep displaced people safe. Basic items such as blankets, laundry soap and jerry cans have also been distributed, while women and girls receive sanitary items for their personal health and hygiene." 

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