DRC: NGOs call for the cessation of hostilities and the respect for international humanitarian law - Doctors of the World

DRC: NGOs call for the cessation of hostilities and the respect for international humanitarian law


On Friday, May 3, a deadly attack struck IDP sites hosting over 55,000 families around Goma, in North Kivu province, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). International non-governmental organizations (INGOs) involved in the humanitarian response are urgently calling on all parties to the conflict to respect the civilian nature of IDP sites, protect civilians, and allow the continuation of life-saving aid for those in urgent need.

This marks the third indiscriminate bombing of an internally displaced persons (IDP) site in less than six months, resulting in at least 18 deaths and 32 injuries. INGOs strongly condemn these bombings, which violate international humanitarian law.

Overcrowded IDP camps are no longer safe, especially for women and children. In addition to indiscriminate bombings, the proximity of heavy artillery and the widespread presence of armed elements within the camps have increased security incidents, endangering both the displaced populations and humanitarian workers.

Fighting has also intensified in the neighboring province of South Kivu, where over 500,000 displaced people in Minova are at risk of bombing and insecurity, leading to recurring forced displacements. After fleeing extreme violence, men, women, and children arrive at the sites in dire financial, physical, and psychological conditions, only to face further risks, including sexual and gender-based violence, due to the presence of armed elements.

Insecurity hinders access to humanitarian aid daily, depriving the population of the assistance they desperately need. Humanitarian organizations report an increasing number of attacks and killings, including an average of 50 incidents of sexual and gender-based violence weekly in the camps. In April alone, over 5,000 people sought psychosocial support in Lushagala Camps 1 and 2, many reporting sexual violence within 72 hours. Insecurity continues to obstruct humanitarian aid access, depriving the population of essential assistance.

INGOs have consistently advocated for the protection of civilians as the conflict in North and South Kivu escalates, disregarding the Luanda peace process. In the first quarter of 2024, the average monthly artillery fire caused two and a half times more civilian casualties than at the end of 2023.

As indiscriminate attacks on displacement sites become more frequent, the humanitarian toll has reached a breaking point, and delivering aid becomes increasingly difficult. Now is not the time to look away. We call for an immediate cessation of hostilities and urge all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law and protect civilians.

The international community must urgently use all diplomatic means to facilitate a political solution to the conflict. All parties involved must protect the population and civilian installations, allowing neutral, impartial, safe, and unimpeded humanitarian access so that the vulnerable population can receive the care they need.


Doctors of the World: Impact in South Kivu


Doctors of the World is working to address the violence towards civilians by working to protect vulnerable communities and raising awareness about critical issues. One of our key objectives in our program in South Kivu was to develop an effective awareness-raising and community mobilization strategy. This strategy involved collaboration with opinion leaders, civil society organizations, public services, and political-administrative authorities, working closely with Community Action Committees (CACs) in targeted humanitarian areas. Through this approach, we were able to reach 16,082 direct beneficiaries 

A large part of are awareness-raising strategy focuses particularly on gender-based violence and sexual assault. Rape is often used as a weapon of war, primarily targeting girls and women. Customs and gender stereotypes further exacerbate the situation, leading to resource denial, early and forced marriages, and other abuses. To address these challenges, our consortium implemented a comprehensive package of response and prevention activities. This enabled us to manage GBV cases through identification, case management, referral, and psychosocial care.

Here is an overview of what we have accomplished in the field for 2023: 

  • Case Management and Referral: 625 individuals (430 women and 195 men) benefited from these services.
  • Psychosocial Support: 3,014 individuals (1,915 women and 1,099 men) received psychosocial support.
  • Prevention Activities: Sensitized 39,924 people on GBV prevention.

These accomplishments were made possible through the active involvement and participation of community members in preventing and combating GBV. Additionally, the lull in violence observed during the last six months of the intervention significantly contributed to these positive outcomes.




© Olivier Papegnies