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Congo crisis: time for Australia to act

09.04.18

ActionAid has joined with other leading humanitarian agencies calling for urgent humanitarian assistance and protection of women’s rights in the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

 

“Women are on the front lines of this crisis and are feeling its greatest impacts. It is critical that Australia upholds its commitments to protecting women’s rights around the world, including ending impunity on sexual violence in the DRC crisis. Direct funding to support women responding to this crisis to protect their rights should be a non-negotiable,” said Carol Angir, Women’s Rights and Emergencies Manager at ActionAid Australia, who has recently returned from DRC and seen first-hand the impact of the conflict on women’s rights.

 

MEDIA RELEASE – 9 April 2018

Five leading Australian humanitarian agencies are warning that an urgent funding boost is needed to avert a dire outcome for 13 million people who need humanitarian assistance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

World Vision, Save the Children, Oxfam, Care, and ActionAid are urging the Australian Government to make a strong commitment at the DRC Donor Conference in Europe this week.

About 9.9 million people are facing food insecurity and funding needs have doubled to USD $1.68 billion in just one year.

“Save the Children has been working on the ground in DRC for many years, but we have been struck by the serious escalation in humanitarian needs over the past year,” Save the Children Australia’s Director of Policy & International Programs Mat Tinkler said.

“Our health centres and malnutrition clinics are inundated with cases, but there is a lack of donor funding to scale up our response. Clearly, more needs to be done to avert a major loss of life.”

Australia provided no direct funding to the DRC Humanitarian Response Plan in 2017.

During that period, the United Nations also declared DRC a Level 3 Emergency, which is the highest emergency classification in the UN system – reserved for only the most urgent crises.

“If we’re serious about addressing one of the world’s worst human-made humanitarian disasters then Australia must do its fair share,” World Vision Australia Chief Advocate Tim Costello said.

“It’s unforgivable to turn our backs on people desperately in need of our help.

“The humanitarian consequences of the DRC conflicts are devastating but preventable. Yet every year, aid agencies must plead with governments to fund the most basic needs of those in crisis. This mentality must stop.”

There are mounting concerns that if governments continue to underfund this response, the conflicts in DRC could destabilise the entire Central African region.

With Australia’s aid budget at an all-time low, the five humanitarian agencies are urging the Australian Government to prove its commitment to directly funding the HRP with a pledge at the DRC’s Donor Conference in Europe on April 13.

From the aid agencies:

ActionAid Australia:

ActionAid is working in Eastern DRC and Kasai Region to support local women to lead efforts to protect their rights and reduce sexual and gender based violence resulting from the conflict. As part of this, ActionAid supports Community Based Anti-Violence Teams (COMBATs) to take action to prevent and respond to instances of violence against women.

“Women are on the front lines of this crisis and are feeling its greatest impacts. It is critical that Australia upholds its commitments to protecting women’s rights around the world, including ending impunity on sexual violence in the DRC crisis. Direct funding to support women responding to this crisis to protect their rights should be a non-negotiable,” said Carol Angir, Women’s Rights and Emergencies Manager at ActionAid Australia, who has recently returned from DRC and seen firsthand the impact of the conflict on women’s rights.

Media contact: Rachael Philips, +61481014401, [email protected]

Care Australia: 

CARE’s work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo includes support for people suffering sexual and gender-based violence, health facilities and water and sanitation services. So far CARE’s response has reached more than 800,000 people affected by the crisis.

CARE Australia Chief Executive Sally Moyle:

“People in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are suffering terrible trauma from the conflicts. Women and girls have faced rampant rape and sexual exploitation, and urgently need healing services, support and counselling. This is not something people can just ‘get over’. We need Australia’s help.”

Media contact: Sam Bolitho, +61 419 567 777, [email protected]

Oxfam Australia:

Oxfam’s humanitarian programme in DRC provides food, water and sanitation, essential household non-food items (eg. water containers, soap, cloth, clothing, personal hygiene kits, and basic kitchenware) and helps keep people safe. 600,000 people have been reached in the provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu, Tanganyka and Kasai.

Jose García Barahona, Oxfam’s Country Director for the DRC, said: “Governments and international donors need to urgently plug the funding gap as without sufficient aid, Oxfam and other humanitarian agencies will not be able to support the millions of people who need it. It is critical that we act now to bring communities together and help rebuild their lives.”

Media contact: Dylan Quinnell, +61 450 668 350, [email protected]

Save the Children Australia:

Save the Children’s work in the DRC includes emergency response teams that are reaching children with severe acute malnutrition through our mobile health clinics which take medics to the displaced people in the villages where they are staying, with relatives or kind-hearted hosts. We also support the hospitals and health centres where we refer children with the most severe cases of malnutrition.

Media contact: Alex Sampson ,+61 429 943 027,[email protected]

World Vision Australia:

World Vision is targeting 2 million people affected by violence in the Kasai Region, Democratic Republic of Congo. World Vision’s work includes food distribution, child protection, peace consolidation, gender-based violence, education and connecting children and former child soldiers with psychosocial support.

Media contact: Brianna Piazza, +61408 624 934, [email protected]

Photos, video interviews and overlay footage is available.

ENDS

Editors’ notes

About ActionAid Australia – www.actionaid.org/australia

ActionAid is a global justice organisation working to empower women to fight injustice and claim their human rights. 

For all media enquiries, please contact Rachael Phillips