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Ebola intervention in Equateur province

Democratic Republic of Congo

We respond to emergencies and assist people fleeing violence and armed conflict. In 2019 and 2020, we responded to the country's biggest-ever Ebola outbreak, in Ituri and North Kivu provinces.

We run some of our largest programmes in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In 2019, we worked in 21 of out of the country's 26 provinces and responded to one of the biggest outbreaks of measles in decades. We also worked with people displaced by conflict, and those with health problems such as HIV/AIDS.

People have little access to healthcare, and disease outbreaks are frequent due to poor surveillance and infrastructure. Violence has led to crises in the Kivus, Tanganyika and Kasai regions, and has forced millions to flee. Three of our staff, abducted in North Kivu in 2013, are still missing.

Our main areas of activity in DRC

Our activities in 2022 in DRC

Data and information from the International Activity Report 2022.

MSF in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2022 Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) runs large-scale projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), responding to the devastating effects of violence and other health emergencies, such as disease outbreaks and malnutrition.
DRC IAR map 2022

The humanitarian situation deteriorated further in DRC last year, mainly because of increased levels of armed violence, in particular due to the resurgence of the M23 armed group in North Kivu. The escalation in conflict and insecurity forced nearly 600,000 people to flee their homes, in a province where 1.9 million people had already been displaced.

Responding to violence-related emergencies
Throughout the year, fighting was concentrated in Rutshuru territory, North Kivu. While most humanitarian organisations left the area, MSF maintained regular activities, supporting health facilities in Rutshuru, Binza, Kibirizi and Bambo to provide intensive care, surgery, therapeutic nutrition and treatment for victims of sexual violence. In addition, we set up emergency interventions for displaced communities. As well as delivering healthcare by running mobile clinics and supporting essential care in health centres located in nearby displacement sites, our teams built latrines, and distributed water and relief items such as hygiene and cooking kits.

Due to the violence in Rutshuru, tens of thousands of people fled to neighbouring Nyiragongo territory, near Goma, where they gathered in informal settlements that were totally lacking in basic services such as shelter, healthcare, food and water. MSF was one of the first organisations to launch an emergency intervention in the settlements in Munigi and Kanyaruchinya. Our teams offered general healthcare, treatment for victims of sexual violence, referrals to Goma hospitals, and safe drinking water, while repeatedly calling on the humanitarian community to support the response.

When the first suspected cases of cholera were reported in these settlements in August, we organised an oral vaccination campaign. However, in October, as fighting intensified in Rutshuru territory, there was a huge influx of new arrivals, and a cholera outbreak could not be prevented. For many weeks, our teams were the only healthcare providers responding to this emergency, setting up dedicated treatment centres.

The violence was by no means limited to the areas directly affected by the resurgence of M23. Conflict broke out in other areas of North Kivu, such as Masisi, and deliberate attacks against civilians continued unabated in Ituri province. Although the lack of security guarantees for our teams forced us to close our projects in Nizi and Bambu, in Djugu territory, we maintained our activities in and around Drodro, treating victims of violence and providing access to basic healthcare, as well as water and sanitation activities for displaced and host communities.

Elsewhere in DRC, our teams supported people affected by outbreaks of violence in Tshikula territory (Kasaï Central), and in Mai-Ndombe and Kwilu provinces, where an intercommunal dispute over land quickly spiralled out of control. Here, our teams organised hundreds of medical consultations and referred the seriously injured to the capital, Kinshasa.  

Outbreaks of infectious diseases 
While the resurgence of M23 was the main focus of public attention towards DRC in 2022, another underreported health crisis was once again a major cause of MSF’s emergency interventions: a new, country-wide flare-up in measles cases. Measles reached epidemic levels in nearly half of DRC’s health zones, with close to 150,000 cases and 1,800 deaths officially reported.  

Our teams carried out 45 specific measles responses in the country, while also continuing to run our usual immunisation and care activities in our regular projects. We vaccinated over two million children against measles in the course of 2022.

We responded to other disease outbreaks during the year, including cholera in North Kivu, South Kivu and Kasaï Oriental provinces, where we treated patients and protected tens of thousands of people through oral cholera vaccinations. We also assisted the Ministry of Health’s response to a meningitis outbreak in Haut-Uélé, and to two Ebola outbreaks in Equateur and North Kivu provinces. 

Our regular general and specialist healthcare activities 
In addition to our emergency responses, we maintained our regular general and specialist medical activities across the country, including HIV and tuberculosis treatment, sexual and reproductive healthcare, safe abortion care, mental health services, and support to marginalised people, such as children living on the streets, prisoners and professional sex workers. We also supported the rehabilitation and construction of several health facilities.

Malnutrition continued to be a key medical issue in several provinces, leading us to launch dedicated interventions in Tshopo, South Kivu and Haut-Uélé. Malaria also remained one of the main diseases treated by our teams in the country. In 2022, we launched specific prevention and treatment activities in South Kivu during the peak season to support the health authorities. We also conducted major indoor household spraying campaigns and mass drug administration activities, the latter consisting of the distribution of a malaria chemoprophylaxis, in Angumu, Ituri, to reduce the high prevalence of malaria in the area.

Meanwhile, the number of patients admitted for sexual violence remained remarkably high in the five provinces where we have dedicated projects for victims, offering them a full package of medical and psychological care. As part of an innovative approach to addressing the high level of sexual violence in Salamabila, our teams worked with the community to set up two ‘husband schools’, spaces where men engage in awareness-raising sessions on sexual violence. The aim is to inform and influence them in a positive way, as they are usually the primary decision makers within their households and their communities.

The extent of activities carried out in DRC by MSF in 2022 once again reflects the magnitude of the medical humanitarian needs in the country. At the end of the year, over 26 million people were in need of assistance, and more than 5.7 million remained displaced, the largest number on the African continent*.

*UNHCR: https://www.unhcr.org/emergencies/dr-congo-emergency 

 

In 2022
 
Camps of internally displaced people in and around Goma
Democratic Republic of Congo

The struggle to survive amidst violence and displacement in North Kivu

Documentary 4 Sep 2023
 
Blukwa'Mbi  health center, Ituri Province, DR Congo
Democratic Republic of Congo

Cycles of violence leave people in Ituri cut off from food and healthcare

Project Update 26 Jun 2023
 
View of Rusayo displacement site
Democratic Republic of Congo

MSF calls for a rapid increase in humanitarian aid for North Kivu crisis

Press Release 21 Jun 2023
 
MSF responds in South Kivu as thousands of displaced people arrive
Democratic Republic of Congo

Thousands of families caught in neglected crisis in South Kivu

Project Update 30 May 2023
 
Aerial view of the Bulengo IDP site
Democratic Republic of Congo

Alarming numbers of sexual violence victims in camps around Goma

Press Release 9 May 2023
 
North Kivu: over one million displaced people face appalling conditions
Democratic Republic of Congo

Urgent response needed for humanitarian disaster in North Kivu

Project Update 26 Apr 2023
 
North Kivu: displaced communities are losing hope as M23 crisis drags on
Democratic Republic of Congo

Urgent response needed for humanitarian disaster in North Kivu

Project Update 4 Apr 2023
 
Measles emergency response
Democratic Republic of Congo

Measles: The never-ending fight against one of the world’s most contagious diseases

Project Update 21 Feb 2023
 
Additional tents set up at the MSF cholera treatment centre in Munigi
Democratic Republic of Congo

Cholera rising among displaced people in precarious conditions

Project Update 13 Dec 2022
Up Next
13 June 2018