Violence in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo - Doctors of the World

Violence in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo


Doctors of the World’s intervention in South Kivu, in eastern DRC, aims to guarantee access to quality health care for the most vulnerable people affected by the conflict. But also to prevent and ensure medical and psychological care for victims of gender-based violence.

South Kivu faces chronic instability caused by the presence of more than 100 armed groups. These fuel widespread insecurity and cause large population movements creating significant humanitarian needs. According to the UNHCR , “two years of cyclical conflict…have forced more than 1.3 million people to flee their homes in the DRC, leading to a total of 5.7 million people internally displaced within the North Kivu provinces.” 

Clashes and abuses by armed groups have contributed to the deterioration of the social fabric and the weakening of the health system. Violence committed against civilian populations and the use of rape as a weapon of war are at the origin of many cases of gender-based violence (GBV).


Aïsha’s Testimony


The testimony of Aïsha (not her real name), 17 years old, is unfortunately far from exceptional. She was going to the field to harvest corn. On the way, around 10 a.m., she came across a group of 3 militiamen speaking an unknown language and armed with machetes. One of them pushed her and then tied her up. The 3 men then raped her until she lost consciousness.  “When I woke up I was tied to a tree and covered in blood. I no longer wanted to live.” 

Aïsha was rescued by a village resident who had completed training with Doctors of the World on the prevention and care of rape victims. He gave her psychological first aid and took her to the nearest health center for medical and psychological treatment. 

Once back home, Aïsha, crushed by a feeling of shame, locked herself in her room, unable to eat… She left school for fear of stigma. After psychological treatment, she finally regained her confidence and was able to return to school. Today, she wants to become a nurse or psychologist to in turn take care of rape victims in her locality.  “I have regained my self-confidence thanks to the support of Doctors of the World, I am a new person, I have a taste for life again,” she confided to the psychologist.


Itombwe and Minembwe: Access to care in a precarious context 


The Itombwe and Minembwe health zones are located in the Hauts-Plateaux of the South Kivu province. The populations who live there have been strongly impacted by the violence that has been raging for several years.

In 2023, thanks to the Doctors of the World teams:

  • 250 women victims of rape received medical care 
  • 3,014 victims of gender-based violence received psychosocial support
  • 39,924  people participated in awareness sessions on the subject

In this context of violence also marked by epidemics, support for the health system is crucial. Doctors of the World works to strengthen the capacities of staff  responsible for primary health care, including the integrated management of childhood illnesses, and the medical and psychological care of victims of gender-based violence.  36 community care sites have also been equipped by Doctors of the World and their trained staff.



Nundu, Resilience of host communities and internally displaced people 

The Nundu region is located between Lake Tanganika to the east and the Fizi-Mwenga Highlands to the west. The 21 health areas in the area care for around 30,000 internally displaced people who have added to a population of  278,916 people. 

In addition to repeated conflicts between local and regional armed groups and security forces, the population also face natural disasters such as rising water levels in Lake Tanganyka, heavy rains or landslides. It is also faced with great precariousness: the main health indicators, such as health coverage, deliveries attended by qualified personnel and even vaccination coverage are among the lowest in the province of South Kivu.

Our interventions since July 2023 in a few figures:

  • 47,345 primary curative consultations were carried out, including 26,147 for the benefit of children under 5 years old. The most common reasons were malaria (18,392 cases), diarrhea (5,752 cases) and acute respiratory infections (7,375 cases).
  • 2,938 children were fully vaccinated.
  • 3,487 births were attended by qualified medical personnel.
  • 3,326 first prenatal consultations were carried out.
  • 438 psychosocial consultations were provided.
  • 101 victims of sexual violence received treatment within 72 hours, including 29 girls under 18 years old.
  • 247 children received health care at remote community sites.

Thanks to the intervention of Doctors of the World, 116 survivors of gender-based violence received an appropriate response and 141 community workers received training on sexual and reproductive health rights and on gender-based violence. 



Finally, with a view to sustainable development and improvement of the health system, including mental health, training was provided to 4 agents from the Nundu General Reference Hospital. Themes covered: ‘Medication management’, ‘Mental health and psychological first aid’, ‘Basic emergency obstetric and neonatal care’ and ‘Post-abortion care’.

Doctors of the World was also responsible for the partial rehabilitation of the maternity department of the Nundu General Reference Hospital with the establishment of the “One Stop Center*” but also by the renovation of the adjacent building intended for patients.

Some figures on the care of survivors of sexual violence:

  • Supported within 72 hours  : 88% or 29/33
  • Having received  legal support  : 100% or 33/33
  • Eligible who have benefited from individualized psychosocial support  : 100% or 33/33
  • Having benefited from orientation for legal assistance among the notified cases: 100% or 33/33