The Democratic Republic of Congo: A Forgotten Crisis

4 minutes read time
Children in the DRC
Children in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Democratic Republic of Congo: A Forgotten Crisis

About 4.5 million people are displaced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), making it one of the largest displacement crises in the world.

As years of conflict further deteriorate the humanitarian situation, explore how USAID is working to reach millions of people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in need of vital assistance.

1. 20-Year Humanitarian Crisis Grows Even Worse 

Over the last year, violence in the DRC has surged and spread to previously peaceful areas, like the Kasai region. This spike in fighting only adds to the devastation already brought on by two decades of conflict in other parts of the country. Now, more than one in 10 need humanitarian assistance, 7.7 million people are facing severe food insecurity, and half of the country’s provinces are affected by conflict, disease and natural disasters. People were forced to flee home in growing numbers, but as people are returning back to their home regions, they’re returning to areas where infrastructure and access to basic services have been destroyed.

2. Kasai Region: Epicenter of Recent Violence

Photo credit: AFP/John Wessels

(AFP photo by John Wessels)

The outbreak of violence in the previously peaceful Kasai region has drastically worsened an already bleak humanitarian situation across the country. At the height of the conflict, 1.4 million people in this region alone were forced to flee their homes. Approximately 4.5 million people are displaced in DRC  --  more than double the number one year ago  --  making it one of the largest displacement crises in the world.

3. Continuing Conflict in the East

Photo credit: Medair/Lucy Bamforth

(Courtesy of Medair/Lucy Bamforth)

In other parts of the DRC, including the eastern provinces of Kivu, Ituri, and Tanganyika, intensifying violence have also led to deteriorating humanitarian conditions. Though poor road conditions and persistent insecurity have long made this a challenging operating environment, humanitarian groups are continuing to work tirelessly to reach displaced families with vital assistance.

4. USAID Airlifts Supplies

In the fall of 2017, USAID airlifted three planes filled with vital relief supplies from our warehouse in Italy to the DRC. This lifesaving journey provided people with the basic items they need to survive.

5. Aid on the Move

The planes carried essential relief items including 60,000 blankets, more than 20,000 kitchen sets and 48,000 water containers. From here, these supplies were moved to remote parts of the Kasai region, where they helped tens of thousands of people affected by the ongoing crisis.

6. The Mobile Health Worker Will See You Now

(Photo Courtesy of Save the Children)

For many families in the Kasai region’s remote Mpengele Village, there are no nearby doctors, clinics or hospitals. So, when our partner Save the Children arrives with mobile health clinics, families gather to make sure they get seen. In addition to primary health care services, these teams are helping to combat malnutrition and other diseases.

7. Helping Children Grow Healthy

(Photo Courtesy of Save the Children)

Mbaya is just one of the children that the Save the Children mobile health units are helping give the healthy start they deserve. He is one of two million children who are malnourished, but after being diagnosed, he was transferred to the hospital for treatment.

8. Fighting the Spread of Cholera

(Photo Courtesy of UNICEF/Pavot)

In response to a cholera outbreak that resulted in more than 5,900 suspected cases, including about 100 deaths between January 1 and February 23, humanitarian groups are providing safe drinking water, medical supplies, improved sanitation and hygiene kits to help curb disease spread. However, a health care system crippled by the ongoing violence is making it more challenging to stop the disease.

9. Hope for a Brighter Future

Medair/Lucy Bamforth

(Photo Courtesy of Medair/Lucy Bamforth)

Despite ongoing insecurity, USAID and humanitarian partners are working tirelessly to deliver lifesaving assistance. The United States is preparing to scale up assistance to the DRC to ensure vital humanitarian aid reaches those who need it most  -- and give the people of DRC the support they need to for a brighter future.

Since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2017, the U.S. has provided more than $192 million in humanitarian aid for the Democratic Republic of Congo. Read more about USAID’s humanitarian efforts in DRC.

About the Author: Annie Leverich serves as a Press and Public Outreach Officer for USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance.

Editor's Note: This entry originally appeared in USAID's 2030: Ending Extreme Poverty in this Generation publication on

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Annie Leverich

Contributor bio

Annie Leverich is a Press and Public Outreach Officer for USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance.