Norwegian Refugee Council: DRC crisis pledges a letdown

16Apr 2018
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Norwegian Refugee Council: DRC crisis pledges a letdown

THE Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has expressed disappointment over insufficient funding to address the humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The amount of funds committed announced following Friday’s high-level pledging conference for the purpose held at the United Nations offices in Geneva prompted NRC secretary general Jan Egeland to make an impassioned appeal to countries to do better.

¨We are disappointed that too few countries sent a real message of hope to the millions of Congolese children, women and men in desperate need of assistance,” he said in an e-mail sent to The Guardian yesterday by NRC roving regional communications advisor Hajer Naili.

He asserted that while many countries have increased their support, “the estimated amount of $530 million announced today by the United Nations would be far from sufficient to meet the needs of 10.5 million people targeted in the Humanitarian Response Plan.”

“This year, $1.7 billion is required to assist affected populations in DR Congo,” he added.

“While we welcome the pledges made today, the response is far from matching the spike in humanitarian needs in Congo”, he noted, adding: “The needs have more than doubled since 2014. More donor countries need to step forward, and those that are already contributing, need to do more to stop this humanitarian tragedy.”

“Without money, we simply cannot reach the people who need aid the most.”

NRC also pleaded with donors to ensure that the pledges made at the Geneva conference are immediately turned into cash for action.

The council warned last week that in the shadow of other humanitarian crises, the number of people in need in the DRC has more than doubled since 2014, reaching the same level as in Syria.

More than 13 million people are now in desperate need of humanitarian assistance and violent conflicts are spreading further in DRC.

NRC had hoped to see Friday’s international pledging conference in Geneva enable the quadrupling of current support to ensure affected communities received immediate aid.

Said Egeland: “We cannot afford the pledging conference to be an ‘all talk and no action’ kind of event. The international community needs to wake up. Today, the lack of funds is already affecting humanitarian operations. Our teams in North Kivu have seen peer agencies pulling out or scaling down, while the needs are increasing.”

“The stakes are incredibly high in DR Congo. Continued inaction would be measured in loss of civilian lives.”

He further elaborated that in many areas families who did receive assistance would only get it once – going months without enough food, shelter and sanitation facilities.

By NRC’s calculations, more than 5 million people in the DRC have fled their homes and are internally displaced or have sought safety in neighbouring countries.

“Yet, the international response has not matched the gravity of the situation,” lamented Egeland, adding: “There is no excuse for doing nothing. There are 13 million reasons to care about DR Congo. Those lives are just as important and just as worthy as the lives anywhere else in the world.”