As 2014 begins, there is some cause to be optimistic that an end is in sight to decades of armed conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Political and military achievements in 2013, including increased regional cooperation and the military defeat of one significant armed group, the M23, offer a window of opportunity to improve the situation for millions of Congolese.
Communities in North and South Kivu still face killings, rape, abductions, torture, and economic exploitation, at the hands of many different armed groups who still control much of the region; many abuses are also carried out by their own government and security forces. Families are torn apart by the strain of living under constant violence and exploitation, with children who are unable to attend school, widespread food shortages and consequent malnutrition, inadequate health care, water, and sanitation facilities.
Across the DRC, over 2.75 million people have been forced to flee their homes within the country, and over 398,000 are dependent on the resources provided in 31 camps.
Voice of Congo: Testimonies of people who have fled the conflict
What Oxfam is doing
View IDP camps near Goma, DRC in a larger map
Oxfam has been responding to needs in camps in eastern Congo, delivering clean water and sanitation, hygiene promotion, livelihood support, and food programs.
In Bulengo camp, in just six weeks, we set up a water piping system allowing us to pump water straight from Lake Kivu, into two tanks and then to the taps. So clean water is now reaching over 50,000 displaced people there.
In Mugunga I, we have been providing water and sanitation for a few months and are one of the leading agencies in a camp hosting over 60,000.
Our water and sanitation program in Masisi (north of Goma) brought much-needed infrastructure for water in a region that has seen a lot of cholera cases lately and where people are often on the move.
The people of eastern DRC have suffered too much for too long, and their desire for security and the chance to get on with their lives is too often ignored. The 2013 regional Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework (PSCF) holds the promise for peace in the region, bringing together 11 signatory countries with a range of commitments including:
- reform of the security sector
- consolidation of State authority
- enhancement of economic cooperation between neighboring countries.
2014 could be key year in which the window of opportunity for peace is limited – without immediate action to uphold peace and security, the people of eastern Congo face the prospect of entering yet another cycle of violence, displacement, extortion and suffering.
The international community must continue to put pressure on all governments in the region to:
- deliver security beyond urban areas
- undertake durable security sector reforms
- be responsive to community needs, and
- guarantee safe access for humanitarian agencies to reach the 2.75 million people who need immediate assistance.
You can donate directly to our humanitarian work in the DRC:
Alternatively, please consider making a donation to the general emergency fund of your nearest national Oxfam affiliate. Your money will be used to fund our emergency work worldwide, which includes responding in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Story: Voices from the DRC: One man's dream of a better life
- Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Oxfam America, March 2009)
- Stop the Killing in the Congo (November 2009)
More on Oxfam's work in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Updated 24 January 2013