The Congo Refugee Crisis is one of the most complex humanitarian crises and it has been ongoing for a very long time now. The influx of 1.4 Rwanda refugees from the 1994 Rwandan genocide has only worsened the overall situation. Now with over a million refugees fleeing from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and millions more displaced from their homes within the country, it has become one of the more significant issues of Africa.
The DRC has been embroiled in conflicts since its independence in 1960. Despite the civil war ending in 2003, more than 100 various armed groups are engaged in conflicts over territory and control. Families are forced to flee their homes, to other areas, and to other neighboring countries. The United Nations Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs has provided a staggering statistic— over 2.1 million people forced out of their homes only during 2017— averaging to around 50 families ‘escaping’ their homes, per hour, each day. The humanitarian crisis includes the Ebola outbreaks in the DRC, which is endemic to the country and has caused over 3,300 confirmed cases and over 2200 reported deaths since August 2018 (USA for UNHCR, 2020). The second-largest Ebola outbreak in the country has still been raging on, since efforts to reign it in has been halted by the presidential election in December 2018. The country’s current President Joseph Kabila has been in power since 2001, and the DRC has not had any peaceful transfer of power since it had achieved independence from Belgium. In light of the ongoing conflicts in the country, DRC is still seeing new refugees arriving from Burundi, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan. About one million people have fled outside the country, to neighboring countries including Angola, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), has, with many of its partners, made leaping improvements to the quality of life of the refugees and displaced people in the DRC in terms of food, water, shelter, sanitation, education, and employment, among other relief measures. However, frequent raids (described as ‘incursions’) of facilities by armed people, damages from natural disasters (such as bushfires and floods) have slowed the progress of their efforts considerably. That, coupled with the armed conflict within armed groups in the country, certainly makes any relief effort a daunting endeavor.
The picture of the global refugee situation looks bleak when one looks at the statistics, but the global effort to combat them are now stronger than ever to provide the humanitarian assistance the people in dire need of them strongly require.