Democratic Republic of Congo: Crisis update – July 2017

Within less than a year, the Greater Kasai region in the centre of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was transformed from a peaceful area in a troubled country to one of the most serious humanitarian crises in the world today. Unrest in this area the size of Italy began in August 2016, when the Congolese armed forces killed a local chief.  

Within ten months:

  • 52 mass graves have been discovered (There is no reliable number of the number of dead and wounded during this conflict)
  • 1.3 million people have fled their homes and 30,000 are refugees in nearby Angola (which places the DRC as the country with the largest number of refugees and displaced this year, ahead of Syria)
  • Up to 400,000 children may be at risk of acute malnutrition according to UNICEF. May and June are planting season, and failure to follow the planting calendar because people are not safe enough to work in fields can threaten October’s harvest, and therefore people’s main source of food and income
  • Two international UN experts have been killed in DRC, which is a first since the UN deployed the group of international experts for investigation of human rights violations in 1999.

The ongoing violence and instability have drastically reduced the availability of medical services and treatment, as well as access to medical facilities.

Kananga and its surroundings

Since April 2017, MSF has run its own facility in part of the Ministry of Health’s Kananga General Hospital. The team has rehabilitated the operating theatre and manages a surgery ward with a capacity for 49 inpatients.

Outside Kananga, insecurity and violence are worsening. Local health centres are deserted or lack medicines and staff.  An MSF team is operating mobile clinics to reach the population in the conflict-affected zones and provide medical assistance. Many displaced people lost access to their income sources due to the insecurity in the area and suffer from nutritional deficiencies.

Tshikapa

MSF started working in Tshikapa in the second week of June 2017. A team is supporting three health centres and a general reference hospital in the urban zone of Tshikapa, and providing medical and humanitarian assistance to vulnerable groups. In the first 13 days of operations, MSF initiated treatment for more than 191 malnourished children by means of two ambulatory and one inpatient therapeutic feeding centres. The teams have carried out 301 consultations of children of less than five years old, assisted 54 births and treated 18 people for conflict related injuries while received and treated the first cases of sexual violence.