The humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is among the world's most complex and protracted emergencies. Recurrent outbreaks of fighting in the DRC have led to numerous displacements of people and an ongoing humanitarian crisis. Internally displaced persons (IDPs), especially in the east of the country are in most urgent need of humanitarian assistance. At the end of November 2012, there were about 2.4 million IDPs in the DRC with more than 420,000 Congolese refugees in the neighbouring countries.
Protection of civilians remains a primary concern in most areas of the DRC affected by conflict. Exactions, looting accompanied by violence like rape, abduction, and forced recruitment of children carried out by armed groups continue to take place.
The Commission is providing shelter, water, food, sanitation facilities and medical services to the displaced mainly in the Eastern part of the country; while also responding to the needs of IDPs and returning refugees in western DRC in the South Ubangi district. Where it is possible for the IDPs to return to their homes, the European Commission is providing the minimum conditions for the rebuilding of people's lives and the improvement of basic social services for vulnerable returnees.
The European Commission is funding protection activities, such as treatment and counselling for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, to respond to the needs of those who have suffered directly and indirectly from displacement and violence.
In non-conflict areas, main humanitarian concerns include malnutrition rates above the emergency threshold, widespread food insecurity and frequent disease outbreaks, such as recent epidemics of measles and cholera. Recurrent expulsions of Congolese illegal migrants from Angola also have significant protection and humanitarian implications.
Access to remote parts of the DRC is problematic due to poor infrastructure and high insecurity. The European Commission operates a dedicated humanitarian air service called 'ECHO Flight' as well as helicopters, which transports humanitarian personnel and supplies to remote locations in the interior of Haut and Bas Uele, North Kivu and South Kivu, Dongo and Kassai Orientale, where access by road is impossible or unsafe.