The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) suspended all its activities in the north-eastern city of Beni and surrounding areas Monday, as a result of an armed group attack on Saturday.
A deadly attack in the city of Beni killed over a dozen civilians over the weekend, a territory which is already fighting an Ebola outbreak. As a result, NRC has been forced to temporarily suspend all its field activities, and other aid groups were forced to suspend planned Ebola vaccinations. NRC has already had to suspend or cancel relief activities several times since the beginning of the year because of insecurity in the area.
This points to an increasingly worrisome security situation across the country. NRC has also had to interrupt multiple aid activities due to intensifying and more frequent armed clashes in Djugu territory in the northern province of Ituri and Fizi territory of South Kivu over the last two weeks. These suspensions have disrupted aid to thousands of people in need of humanitarian assistance and protection.
“It’s a worst-case scenario for any aid group to have to suspend relief work that helps communities in need,” said Stephen Lamin, Area Manager for NRC. “But this weekend’s attack on Beni town has left us in an impossible position.”
The deteriorating security situation over the past two months in North-Kivu has also impacted hunger levels. Food insecurity is rising in the previously resilient territory of Beni because agricultural activities have been put on hold, as farmers fear going to their fields due to the threats of being attacked, kidnapped or killed.
“Living conditions of the displaced are deplorable not only because of untenable security situation, but because there is painfully low funding from international donors to adequately serve their needs,” said Lamin. “The recent attack has made the situation even worse as families have had to flee from their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Donor countries must open their purse strings as rapidly as possible to help stem a humanitarian situation that is quickly getting out of control. The consequences to human life far outweigh budget costs.”
So far, only 27% of the money needed to meet the humanitarian needs in DR Congo this year has been provided.
NRC is providing food, essential household items, education and legal counselling in Ituri, North and South Kivu, Tanganyika and the Kasai region for people who have been forced to flee, and for those returning home.