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'$2.25 Billion Needed for Displaced in DRC': UN

Internally displaced people (IDP) carry charcoal from the forest at the foot of Nyiragongo volcano in Virunga National Park, Jan. 13, 2023, to the market in Kibati, DRC.

The United Nations Wednesday said it will need to mobilize a record $2.25 billion in 2023 to address the mass displacement of people in east Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following last year’s offensive by M23 rebels.

The global rights body Wednesday released a report that documented over 600,000 people have been uprooted in the DRC’s North-Kivu province, where decades of militia violence worsened last year after Tutsi-led M23 rebels staged a major come back.

Bruno Lemarquis, the U.N.’s coordinator for the country said 5.7 million people have been displaced and added that the Central African nation has the largest number of displaced people in Africa.

“The vast majority of the targeted humanitarian needs are in Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu and the Kasai,” he said referring to the country’s four eastern provinces.

The U.N. representative also said the record budget will cover increased operational costs linked to soaring global prices due to the war in Ukraine.

In 2022, the U.N. had planned to spend $1.88 billion on DRC. Only 48% of this objective was met, reaching only 5 million out of 8.8 million targeted people. Funds are needed for food, water, shelter, and medicine.

The army has struggled to resolve a conflict that has caused a diplomatic spat with neighboring Rwanda, which President Felix Tshisekedi's administration accuses of backing the rebels. Rwanda denies this.

Spiraling insecurity in the east is adding to other ongoing humanitarian crises such as growing food insecurity linked to the impact of climate change.

DRC is also regularly hit with outbreaks of measles, the latest of which infected 148,600 people and killed 1,800 last year, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said on Tuesday.

The latest rebel offensive has added to concerns about parliamentary and presidential elections on Dec. 20.