DRC Internal Refugees Reach 6.9 Million: Ethnic, Regional, and Islamists

DRC Internal Refugees Reach 6.9 Million: Ethnic, Regional, and Islamists

Kanako Mita and Sawako Utsumi

Modern Tokyo Times

Internal refugees fleeing from ethnic, political, religious, and regional violence are taking a heavy toll on the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Earlier this year, the Senior Emergency Officer of the World Health Organization (WHO) – Dr. Jorge Castilla – told the international media that 7.4 million people require health assistance. This concerns the ongoing conflicts in eastern areas – and a plethora of health issues that blight the DRC.

UN News reports, “The country’s health system is under huge pressure due to overlapping outbreaks of Covid-19, measles, polio, mpox. Yellow fever, cholera and malaria are on the rise due to recurrent natural disasters and lack of access to safe water and sanitation for those on the move, said WHO.”

The continuing conflicts in the provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu entail roughly three million people fleeing since early 2022 from these regions.

Voice of America reports, “The conflict between Mouvement du 23 Mars (M23) rebels and militias loyal to DR Congo’s government has intensified in the eastern province of North Kivu since early October, particularly north of the provincial capital Goma.”

Volker Türk – UN high commissioner for human rights – said, “The armed groups, M23, ADF, CODECO, Zaire and Nyatura, continue to carry out egregious attacks against the civilian population and they do this with full impunity.”

He continued, “The targeted violence endured by civilians in the conflict-affected areas include sexual violence, sexual violence of extreme brutality. This has historically been used as a deliberate weapon in the DRC and as a strategy of terror.”

Mulinde Esemo – a Christian church leader in Butembo – said Christians were being slaughtered by Islamic terrorists in the DRC – like people butcher animals. 

Mulinde Esemo said,  Scores of believers (Christians) have been killed in cold blood by the ADF rebels. It is a massacre like one killing animals.” 

The instability created by various wars in North Kivu and Ituri – and the spreading chaos to parts of South Kivu – entail that vast resources are needed to support the 6.9 million who are internally displaced.

The conflict is also making it harder to reach children who need vaccinations. Also, the displacement of people is putting enormous pressure on local communities that witness the endless flow of internal refugees. Therefore, the fragile healthcare systems catering to local needs – and the spread of dangerous diseases that thrive under the prevailing conditions – are further adding to the internal woes of the DRC.

The international community and mass media are over-focused on events in Ukraine and the current conflict between Hamas and Israel.

Lee Jay Walker says, “Accordingly, the tens of millions blighted by wars, religious massacres, political issues, and ethnic massacres in Burkina Faso, the DRC, Ethiopia, Mali, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen – and other conflicts including the ongoing persecution of Papuans in West Papua by Indonesia to the embattled Buddhists of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh – are barely mentioned to the same extent.”

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