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DRC Humanitarian Crisis
Rape as a Weapon of War
The Democratic Republic of Congo has one of the highest rates of sexual and gender based violence in the world. Here, it is more dangerous to be a woman than a solider. Armed combatants frequently rape women and girls as a weapon of war.
Renewed Fighting Displaces Tens of Thousands of People
August 30, 2013 – The recent spike in violence is the most severe the region has seen since the fall of Goma to armed groups at the end of 2012, from which residents are still recovering. The front line is close now to the town centre, with many fearing a repeat of last November’s mass displacement, which has seen up to half a million people uprooted.
CARE is concerned about both the civilians in Goma and the internally displaced people in the camps surrounding the town. We are especially concerned about women and girls as we know that they are the most vulnerable when conflict erupts. The people of North Kivu have already been traumatized by decades of conflict. We urge all parties to protect the civilians and the camps, and ensure there is a space for civilians to flee, if needed, as camp areas are being blocked by the fighting. The UN’s peacekeeping mission MONUSCO and the Congolese government need to ensure that the sites in and around Goma obtain effective protection and safety.
July 16, 2013 – Renewed fighting in the troubled eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has led to a new wave of refugees fleeing into neighboring Uganda to search for security. Initial reports by the Uganda Red Cross Society are that as many as 66,000 people have fled and are in need of assistance in Uganda.
Our humanitarian workers on the ground are on high alert and are monitoring the situation. In the DRC, where conflict is a sad reality of daily life, CARE works to provide support to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. We run two projects that treat survivors and aim to stop sexual violence in conflict areas in North Kivu. CARE also supports internally displaced people with food, water and sanitation through cash and voucher programs.
On November 15, 2012, heavy fighting resumed between the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) and the break-away group of soldiers known as "Mouvement du 23 Mars" or M23. Armed clashes occurred in several villages, mainly in Rutshuru Territory in the North Kivu province, just south in Nyiragongo Territory and in the provincial capital of Goma. While a ceasefire has been in hold, there is not a formal agreement in place.
The M23 fighters withdrew from Goma in December 2012. Since then, a ceasefire agreement was reached between the opposing forces. The terms of the agreement currently are being monitored by UN peacekeeping forces, with talks underway to find a more permanent solution for peace. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the situation is still very fragile.
Women are particularly at risk of sexual violence and rape, which has long been used as a weapon of war in the DRC. Looking for firewood and water, women and girls are in constant danger of being attacked, raped and even killed by different armed groups moving around in the area. In Masisi and Rutshuru, CARE teams also report a significant rise in rapes and other acts of violence that are going unreported and untreated due to the deteriorated security situation. This leaves women without access to healthcare or counseling, including post-exposure prophylaxis kits to help prevent the transmission of HIV.
Providing relief and protection to civilians is a priority for the humanitarian community, but insecurity and poor infrastructure makes it challenging to reach affected communities. The area in and around Goma is still reeling from the violent conflict, and CARE is continuing to carry out our emergency response there.
August 8, 2016 - The Kasai complex humanitarian crisis started originally in Kasai Central with a violent uprising of a local militia (Kamuina Nsapu) on the 8th of August 2016. The conflict has now spread to Kasai and Kasai Oriental Provinces, with repeated attacks by the armed groups against DRC government institutions and entities as well as combat between armed groups of and with the DRC Armed Forces (FARDC).
Since the beginning of the crisis, 1.4 million people have been displaced both within the three Kasai Provinces but also into neighbouring provinces. Approximately, 30,000 people have sought refuge in Angola.
This crisis in DRC comes up on top of several other ongoing crises in the country, including displacement in the Kivu Provinces, and the Tanganiyka region. According to UNOCHA, 3.8 million people are currently displaced in DRC, the most of any country in Africa. The crisis in Kasai has generated enormous humanitarian needs across all sectors, with Food Security/Livelihoods, Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH), Protection and GBV, Water and Sanitation (WASH), Shelter/NFIS, and Education. Multiple zones within the Kasais are now classified as IPC Level 4 (emergency) and the recent assessment conducted by CARE DRC in Kasai oriental confirms the significant needs in Food Security.
Extremely pressing needs in sexual health and sexual violence response are needed. In fact, during CARE’s recent assessment, 100% of focus groups and individual interviewees reported
cases of rape. The size of the crisis is hard accurately gauge because Displaced Persons movement is extremely fluid and dynamic, changing on a daily basis. The humanitarian response has been slow to get started, due to the fact that Humanitarian agencies were previously focused on other crises in the country (Kivus and Tanganyika) where there are also pressing needs: e.g. Cholera in Goma. The UN has released a flash appeal in May 2017 for $64.5 million, funded currently only at 11%.
Finally, access to the Kasai Regions is difficult, with very limited and difficult road access and humanitarians are accessing the area via flights on UNHAS and Congo Airways. CARE DRC is preparing to launch an SRHR/GBV project with the recently allocated CI ERF. The Country office is also exploring funding opportunity by contacting potential donors and submitting proposals.
CARE’s office in the DRC has been focused principally in the last years on development projects, in the provinces in and around Goma (with a project in Kasai only having been closed at the end of 2016), but since May of 2017 has been scaling up and seeking funding to respond to the crisis, with the first step being a comprehensive needs assessment carried out in May and June of 2017. CARE DRC has obtained ERF funding for initial SRH/GBV activities and is actively submitting proposals to donors in order to be able to ramp up CARE’s response. Support from all CARE Members will be needed to ensure a response at an appropriate scale.
We are working with partners in camps in and around Goma to provide psychological assistance to survivors of sexual violence and train community workers on sexual violence protection, prevention and care. We've also provided tens of thousands of families plastic sheeting and non-food items, such as buckets and water jugs; delivered medicine to health centers; constructed public and family latrines; distributed emergency food; and set up a cash and voucher system to help with long-term food security needs.
*Updated July 2017
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In 2011 alone, CARE reached 12 million people affected by natural disasters, conflict situations and other crises.