Under-reported: 13 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo who are in need of emergency assistance
Soldiers from Pakistan performing duties for the United Nations in the DRC. Photo: Daniel C. Braun, via PA Images.   

In a recent survey for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, aid agencies (including Christian Aid) named the ongoing crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo the most neglected humanitarian situation in the world in 2017.

Key facts on the DRC
An estimated six million lives have been lost in the long war that started in 1997 and has ravaged Africa’s second largest country of 79 million people. That makes it the deadliest of the post-WWII era. Deaths have been caused by the fighting itself or from the hunger and disease that have stemmed from the breakdown of basic services.

President Kabila, son of the former president, has ruled the country since 2001. 20th December was the last day of his presidency, according to the constitution but he remains in office.

The median age in the country is 18.6 years.

An unfolding conflict in the Kasai region and continued fighting in South Kivu and Tanganyika have contributed to 1.7 million people being forced to leave their homes, taking the total number of displaced people in DRC to 4.1 million. Combined with existing poverty and insecurity this means that now over 13 million people in the country are reliant on emergency assistance, but UN funds to respond are woefully lacking.  A political crisis is also unfolding, with President Kabila refusing to set a date for a long-overdue election, but international diplomatic efforts to help resolve this issue seem very limited.

The size of the whole of Western Europe, DRC is home to huge mineral wealth which, amongst other things, is vital for mobile phone technology, and to a huge swathe of rainforest – one of the world’s most important “lungs”. The scale of untapped human potential is vast and, if stable and well governed, the country could grow enough food and generate enough clean energy to serve the whole continent.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals cannot be met if poverty in Congo isn’t addressed. The future of the whole of Africa is tied up in the future of DRC and it is a future we should all be concerned about.

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Introduction to this Under-reported series.

Summary guide to all under-reported articles in this series.