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UN DRC Appeal Only Fractionally Funded

FILE - People attempt to cross the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ugandan border with their belongings to seek refuge after clashes between the DRC army and M23 insurgents, in Bunagana, 100 kilometers from the city of Goma in eastern DRC, on April 2, 2022.

GENEVA - The Democratic Republic of Congo lamented Monday that the U.N humanitarian appeal for the African country has been only 20 percent funded, with international aid being focused on Ukraine.

The Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC]"is a neglected crisis... compared to the global reaction to Ukraine,", the DRC's solidarity minister Modeste Mutinga told reporters at the United Nations in Geneva.

Bruno Lemarquis, the U.N.'s resident and humanitarian coordinator in the DRC, said that of the $2.25 billion needed for operations in the country this year, only 20 percent had come in.

Last year's $1.9 billion humanitarian appeal was 50 percent funded.

But now funding is needed more than ever because "the situation is not business as usual", said Lemarquis.

"The DRC protracted humanitarian crisis remains very acute, and very complex.

"It's mostly due to conflict but also to epidemics to disasters, and it's compounded by many factors."

However, "Since March 2022, the situation has really worsened, especially with the resurgence of the M23 rebel movement," he said.

The largely ethnic Tutsi M23 rebel military group has conquered swathes of territory in the country's east.

More than a million people have been forced to flee their villages since March last year, according to the U.N.

"All the force needs to be made on the political front to stop this" unrest, Lemarquis said.

"Humanitarian needs which were already very high, have increased further, have skyrocketed with additional population displacement in particular."

Mutinga said the crisis was being overlooked on the political as well as the humanitarian level.

"When it came to Ukraine, the entire international community rose up to condemn the aggression and impose sanctions," he said.

"But despite reports by the U.N. and the European Union pointing the finger at Rwanda as an aggressor, on the political level nothing has been done so far.

The DRC accuses Rwanda of backing M23, claims supported by independent U.N. experts. The allegations are denied by Kigali.