Social Associate @ Unsung Heroes Foundation
The Democratic Republic of Congo is experiencing a complex emergency situation, aggravated by multiple acute crises for more than two decades. More than 26 million people are in need (source: Humanitarian Needs Overview 2023), of which approximately 7.3 million are at risk of experiencing gender-based violence. The protection environment has deteriorated in the east of the country following armed and inter-community conflicts.
Even if the western and central provinces of the country are not affected by armed conflicts, insecurity, inter-community conflicts related to land issues and the low status of women are risk factors for gender-based violence. . (HRP 2022).
The DRC therefore records a significant number of cases of gender-based violence. Thus, according to the national GBV database and the National Health Information System, 30,010 GBV survivors were taken care of. North Kivu records the highest number of survivors with the number standing at 10,384. In June 2022, the humanitarian situation overview reported 2.5 million people in need of assistance and protection in North Kivu;
South Kivu records 3828 cases of survivors. In Ituri, from January to September 2021, the province recorded 5,405 cases of GBV. Among these cases, 2,131 are rapes whose main alleged perpetrators are identified among the armed groups and the Security Forces (FARDC and the PNC). There are also reports of GBV cases involving state agents.
The deleterious security situation in the provinces of South Kivu, North Kivu, Ituri, Maniema, Tanganyika, Mai-Ndombe, population movements coupled with the weakness of community protection mechanisms have exacerbated gender-based violence. In addition to this security aspect where armed conflicts and violence, cultural constraints, impunity, epidemics, natural disasters and the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 have also considerably exacerbated already existing vulnerabilities, in a marked context by a structural lack of access to essential services. In the Kasai region, for example, rape results in early marriages or arranged marriages as a cultural accommodation. In North Kivu, women are also victims of atrocious violence by armed groups and militias. In Tanganyika, discriminatory practices against women and girls aggravate the socio-economic vulnerability of women and girls. This vulnerability is exacerbated by the resurgence of inter-community conflicts and growing insecurity in the province. To illustrate, women devote themselves to agriculture, but the growing insecurity linked to conflicts, the resurgence of cases of violence they suffer, prevent them from accessing and the acts of violence used as a tactic of war break this dignity. and this trust that could lead them to get involved in conflict resolution.
Efforts to consolidate peace and to combat sexual and gender-based violence have been implemented, but given the scale of the needs on the ground, especially in a post-COVID situation, the high vulnerability and the persistence conflicts, these efforts still need to be strengthened.
Regarding issues of Peace and Security, many developments have been recorded at the normative level in connection with the implementation of Resolution 1325 and the National Action Plan 1325 with a view to ensuring the effective involvement of women in the processes. of peace and the fight against violence. However, in some conflict areas and in the provinces, women are little involved in conflict prevention processes and initiatives to take their concerns into account. Similarly, despite the key role that women’s civil society organizations can play in conflict prevention, they do not benefit from the resources to exercise this role. The need for mobilization of women from local civil society will contribute to carrying out concrete actions in order to ensure, through projects or initiatives of a cohesive nature, the return of peace through the transformative role of women in conflict resolution. .
South Kivu has been affected by several epidemics, including measles, cholera and the Covid-19 pandemic. South Kivu has notified 17,933 cases of measles since the beginning of 2022 until epidemiological week 46, for 191 deaths, representing a fatality rate of 1.07%. As for cholera, 4,505 cases have been notified for 15 deaths since January 1, representing a case fatality rate of 0.33%. 18 out of 34 HZs were affected with the highest number of cases in Fizi HZ, followed by Kalehe, Minova, Ruzizi, Idjwi, Nundu and Uvira for major outbreaks. This situation is generally exacerbated by poor access to drinking water, non-compliance with hygiene practices and precarious sanitation in a context of population movement which accelerates human-to-human contamination. We observe an upward trend for these two epidemics compared to the same period last year.
In the second half of 2022, the provinces of South Kivu and Maniema recorded 9,673 serious human rights violations, mainly perpetrated by armed groups, and which affect, in descending order, the right to property, the right to physical integrity and gender equality. Among these violations, there are 312 serious violations of children’s rights in times of armed conflict (including a majority of forced recruitment into armed groups) and 470 cases of gender-based violence (GBV).
Author: John Mubake
Social Associate @ Unsung Heroes Foundation, DRCongo