UN de-activates maximum emergency level for DR Congo crisis


The United Nations is downgrading Congo from its highest level of humanitarian emergency after the arrival of aid and an outcry from government officials who say the focus on such woes is deterring investment.

The world body activated a so-called Level 3 emergency for Democratic Republic of Congo in October, putting the country on the same footing as Syria and Yemen.

That is due to be deactivated this month, a senior UN official said in a statement.

Over 13 million Congolese need humanitarian aid, twice as many as last year, and 7.7 million face severe food insecurity according to a UN report, as militia violence spikes across much of the country’s eastern borderland.

Humanitarian officials from foreign donors and aid agencies repeatedly said in recent weeks the crisis is worsening and the country’s needs are well short of being met.

Congo’s government rejects that the humanitarian situation is getting worse. It says it recognises about 231,000 internally displaced Congolese compared with UN estimates of around 4.3 million – 19 times higher.

Government is also shunning a conference this month in Geneva organised by the United Nations and other donors in an effort to raise $1.7 billion for Congo, saying the focus on humanitarian woes is deterring investment.

In the statement, UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock said since the Level 3 emergency was activated for Congo last October over 1.1 million people received lifesaving aid.
“The benchmarks established on 20 October 2017 to measure the L3 scale-up have largely been met. The L3 status will accordingly be deactivated on 20 April 2018,” Lowcock said.

The crisis in Congo’s perpetually volatile east – where conflict, hunger and disease killed millions in civil wars around the turn of the century – has been further fuelled by President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down when his constitutional mandate expired in 2016.

Kabila denies clinging to power and says elections have been delayed because of logistical problems.

Renewed violence between Lendu farmers and Hema herders in Ituri province since February killed dozens and forced more than 60,000 to flee to neighbouring Uganda.