New York, NY, December 19, 2016 — The Democratic Republic of Congo is once again on the brink, as the threat of a renewed and large-scale political crisis with dire humanitarian consequences looms around the corner.
The current government has failed to plan elections – delayed for now until April of 2018 – as President Joseph Kabila’s constitutionally-limited second term expires. The IRC is deeply concerned that should tensions escalate between the government and opposition leaders, who have called for daily protests until Kabila steps down, violence is all but certain, and the average Congolese citizen will pay the price. Another political crisis will not only exacerbate the lack of access to already-scarce basic services by the population - with knock-on effects on health, education, protection and food security - but also risks increasing displacement within and outside the country’s borders, not to mention local violence and disempowerment.
The humanitarian consequences of Congo’s successive crises are dire. Each shock weakens the coping potential of an already beleaguered population, plunged into complex and protracted cycles of instability that impact the entire region and have done so for the past twenty years. One in 10 people in DRC are already in urgent humanitarian need, a situation that will deteriorate should violence spike and instability continue. What the DRC needs now is the political will to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of the Congolese people who have suffered too long from continuous crisis.
-Ciaran Donnelly, Senior Vice President of International Programs
The IRC in the Democratic Republic of Congo
The IRC began working in DRC in 1996 to respond to the humanitarian crisis in the east of the country. It has since become one of the largest providers of humanitarian assistance and post-conflict development, providing life-saving assistance in the fields of health, water, sanitation and hygiene, women’s protection and empowerment, education and livelihoods. IRC teams and partners currently reach 2.3 million people in Congo with lifesaving support.
Spokespeople are available in New York, London and Kinshasa.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 29 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.