‘Catastrophic cocktail’ next door

“A forgotten crisis within a forgotten crisis,” in Tanganyika province in DRC, as seen in this October 2017 photo.  Photo: NRC/Prince Lumueno

Horrific living conditions for people displaced in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have prompted the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) to issue a dire warning.

“Tanganyika [province] is on the brink of a deadly disaster. It’s catastrophic cocktail about to blow up,” says Ulrika Blom, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) country director in DR Congo.

“The province is a forgotten crisis within a forgotten crisis,” says Blom.

Blom says people displaced by violence in Tanganyika province face appalling living conditions.

“Families I met in Kalemie town are surviving in sub-human conditions. I was told about one man who drowned when heavy rain flooded his roofless shelter. Many parents are sleeping standing up or staying awake to avoid the same fate. It’s inconceivable that people are living like this.”

Over 80 per cent of people sheltering in displacement sites NRC assessed over the past two weeks in Tanganyika have no access to clean drinking water.

Blom says three in four people do not have access to latrine toilets.

Over half a million people in Tanganyika province – or one in five people – have fled their homes because of inter-communal violence over the past 15 months.

Despite the immense needs, shelter, water and sanitation sectors in DR Congo are less than 5 per cent funded, says a press release by the NRC.

Last month, the United Nations activated its highest Level 3 emergency status for DR Congo, on par with Iraq, Syria and Yemen, the three other crises currently recognised as Level 3 emergencies.

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