The Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has been facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, with a staggering six million people displaced due to intensifying conflicts caused by non-state armed groups. In Ituri province alone, a quarter of the population finds themselves in precarious conditions, seeking refuge from the violence. “Our team on the ground has witnessed attacks on refugee camps, resulting in the loss of innocent lives. Besides ensuring the safety of these vulnerable individuals, it is crucial to provide comprehensive support. They are residing in overcrowded camps, schools, and churches, often with only the possessions they could carry. The lack of essential resources is dire,” explains Johannes Schildknecht, Malteser International’s Country Officer for DR Congo.
The violence of armed groups in Ituri Province has displaced more than 550,000 people in recent months, contributing to a total of 1.7 million forced to flee their homes.
Responding to the growing number of refugees, the Order of Malta’s worldwide relief agency is expanding its assistance efforts in the Mahagi region of Ituri province. The German Federal Foreign Office and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development play a significant role in supporting this endeavor. “We are distributing cash aid to enable the displaced population to purchase food, mattresses, and blankets. Our primary focus is on bolstering healthcare facilities to ensure access to medical services. We are supplying medicines, clean drinking water, and essential supplies to both refugees and the local community, emphasizing the importance of equitable treatment,” states Schildknecht. “Many individuals are unable to cultivate their fields and lack the means to feed their families. Reaching those at risk of violence is increasingly challenging, and the safety of our staff is also under threat.”
DR Congo is the largest hunger emergency in the world, with over 25 million people struggling daily to get to eat.
Malteser International has been supporting the people of DR Congo since 1996 in the eastern provinces, primarily in the areas of health, food security and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).