Press communication : International INGO Forum denounces attacks on civilians and humanitarian actors DRC
The International NGO Forum, representing 118 international NGOs operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo, denounces the increase in violence against the Congolese civilian population and the direct attacks against humanitarian and development workers in the country. The INGOs operating in the country call on the Congolese government to redouble its efforts to ensure compliance with International Humanitarian Law and that perpetrators of such criminal acts be identified and prosecuted.
On 11, 12 and 13 May, in North Kivu and Ituri, three international NGOs were victims of critical incidents during the implementation of their activities for vulnerable populations. One organization was attacked by armed men, ending with injured and abducted staff members. Another was confronted with armed robbery, while a third organization’s base was severely damaged during civil demonstrations. More recently, a vehicle belonging to an
INGO was set on fire by demonstrators.
These recent incidents are yet reminders of the high risks that humanitarian and development workers face every day in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and of the violence that the population has suffered for many years.
Humanitarian, development, and peace actors in the DRC work daily to meet the urgent needs of the country’s women, men, and children, while contributing to long-term change to improve people’s lives. They provide food, shelter, water, sanitation and protection to people, millions of whom are displaced or vulnerable. International NGOs are also working to promote sustainable democracy, gender equality, improved quality of education, the development of health systems and better use of natural resources. But meeting the needs in the DRC is made more difficult every day by the increase in violence and direct attacks on humanitarian and development operations, a situation that has deteriorated considerably over the past 12 months.
In 2021, the balance sheet also showed a heavy toll with many kidnappings, robberies, and physical violence. And, between January and April 2022, this year alone, three aid workers were killed, five were injured and eleven were abducted (Source: International NGO Safety Organization (INSO), NGOsafety.org). This makes the Democratic Republic of Congo one of the most dangerous countries in the world for humanitarian and development workers. The consequences of these targeted attacks are detrimental to the Congolese population as they often lead to suspension of movements of organizations and thereby affect people’s access to vital and urgent assistance.
“We are extremely concerned about the increase in violence, especially over the last 15 months. This violence is targeting not only the civilian population, but also the humanitarian and development operations working to help
the most vulnerable. We expect the authorities to play their full part in preventing and resolving these incidents by taking steps to ensure that international humanitarian law and principles are respected and that the perpetrators of these serious acts are identified, tried, and convicted. If violence against humanitarians were to continue, it would further aggravate the situation for the hundreds of thousands of Congolese people assisted by international NGOs. We work for the community and the population, and the authorities must help us to help them,” said Rémi Alvernhe, Acting Director of the INGO Forum in DRC.
In this context, where access has been drastically reduced, the INGO Forum calls on the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, to redouble its efforts to take adequate measures to ensure that International Humanitarian Law is respected, and that the perpetrators of such these criminal acts to be identified and prosecuted, to uphold the rule of law and International Humanitarian Law.
For more information about this press communication : Rémi Alvernhe, Acting Director of the INGO Forum in the DRC: [email protected]