DR Congo boycotts own aid conference

A Congolese man holds his child after he crossed the border from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to be refugees at Nteko village in western Uganda on January 24, 2018.

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Tens of thousands of Congolese refugees have crossed the border into Uganda

The Democratic Republic of Congo has boycotted a UN donor conference in Geneva seeking to raise $1.7bn (£1.2bn) for the country.

The UN says more than 13 million Congolese need humanitarian aid, calling it a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.

But the government says the UN has exaggerated the scale of the problem.

Aid agencies say 4.5 million people have been forced from their homes by violence, hunger and instability.

Tens of thousands of Congolese have sought refuge in western Uganda.

DR Congo is rich in mineral and other resources but is affected by armed conflicts, corruption and a political crisis.

In response, the UN has declared that the humanitarian crisis facing the country is Level three – the body’s highest-level emergency.

“This is up there with Yemen and Syria in terms of number of people in desperate need,” says Jan Egeland, the former head of the UN’s emergency humanitarian relief office, who now leads the Norwegian Refugee Council and has just returned from a mission to DR Congo.

“I was not prepared of for the scale of the suffering, frankly,” he adds.

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In the past two years, more people have been displaced in DR Congo than any other country

He says the international community is ignoring the crisis in DRC.

“Since the Congolese are not coming to the Mediterranean, since the Congolese are not part of a Russian-US or Saudi-Iran battle, they are being ignored really.”

But the Congolese government rejects the UN’s assessment of of the country. It views the level three emergency rating as exaggerated.

“We have our own figures which should be compared with UN figures,” DR Congo’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Zenon Mukongo Nga, told the BBC.

“Sometimes people are just sitting in their offices in Geneva, in New York, and they just get reports from people who are on the ground.”

The BBC’s Imogen Foulkes says UN officials say they still hope DR Congo’s diplomats will change their minds and show up to the event in Geneva.

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Two million children in DR Congo are at risk of starvation

President Joseph Kabila has been in power in DR Congo since 2001. His second and final term officially ended in December 2016.

Elections have been scheduled for December this year but correspondents say it is unclear if President Kabila will give way.

DR Congo’s crisis in numbers

  • 13 million people in need of humanitarian assistance
  • At least 4.5 million displaced
  • More than 7 million face severe food insecurity
  • Two million children at risk of starvation – 12% of cases worldwide

Source: United Nations

DR Congo boycotts own aid conference

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