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The Democratic Republic of Congo Faces ‘Level 3’ Humanitarian Emergency

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has called it “one of the most severe cholera epidemics in years.” 

The United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR) labeled the situation a “level 3” emergency. 

The Guardian reports that the human suffering is at the “same level of crisis as Iraq, Syria and Yemen.” 

Take Action: Call on African Leaders to Make Health a Priority

The multi-pronged humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is dire, and getting worse, while only one-fifth of the necessary humanitarian aid has been committed, according to multiple reports. 

Perhaps most staggering is the increase in reports of cholera, a deadly disease that has been made worse by violence, lack of healthcare services, and insufficient humanitarian aid funding. 

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According to The Guardian, “cholera is raging at a rate never before seen in DRC.” 

While cholera is “endemic” to some parts of the country, MSF’s head of mission in the DRC, Francisco Otero, said that drought has exacerbated the outbreak. 

“Wells have dried up or lowered in level and many people have been forced to collect water from unsafe sources, such as lakes or rivers, because the authorities are not able to provide safe drinking water to the population,” Otero said in a statement. 

Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, including goal number three: good health and well-being. We believe that it is critical that African leaders play a role in making health a priority. You can take action on this issue here.  

The disease is now present in 21 of the country’s 26 provinces, the most provinces ever affected at one time by the disease, according to Otero. In the past year, nearly 40,000 people have been treated for cholera, as access to clean water and sanitation is limited.

Read More: A New Outbreak Is Threatening Ebola Survivors in Congo

Other statistics coming out of the DRC paint a picture of immense human suffering. 

In the past three months, nearly half a million people have been displaced. An estimated 3.3 million are at risk of starvation. 

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At the same time, escalating sectarian violence has made it increasingly difficult to deliver life-saving humanitarian aid to the country, the Guardian reported

“With widespread militia activities, and unrest and violence fuelled by ethnic and political conflict affecting many areas, the risk of further displacement is high,” UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards told the Guardian.

Instability in the DRC began to escalate this summer, primarily in the central Kasai region of the country, where rebel militias took up arms against the government of President Joseph Kabila. 

Read More: 3 Million People Are Facing Starvation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, WFP Warns

This summer, the UN warned of “ethnic” killings by militias targeting the Luba and Lula minorities. 

“Survivors have spoken of hearing the screams of people being burned alive, of seeing loved ones chased and cut down, of themselves fleeing in terror,” UN high commissioner, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, said.  

Currently, however, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is facing a funding shortfall of $236.2 million, according to Relief Web. If this gap is not bridged, the UN warns, the consequences could be “dire.”