EU sends humanitarian aid to conflict-hit eastern DR Congo

Saturday March 11 2023
Baggage handlers offload humanitarian aid in Goma

Baggage handlers offload a consignment of humanitarian aid from an EU flight at the airport in Goma, North Kivu province March 10, 2023. It will be distributed to civilians displaced by fighting between the Congolese army and M23 rebels. PHOTO | ARLETTE BASHIZI | REUTERS



A bright yellow cargo plane carrying tents, medical equipment, and other humanitarian aid landed on Friday in the eastern Congolese city of Goma — the first delivery under a European Union (EU) scheme to support some of the region's millions of displaced people.

Fighting between the Congolese army and the M23, a rebel group claiming to represent the interests of ethnic Tutsis in eastern Congo, has exacerbated an existing humanitarian crisis with over 5.5 million people displaced across several provinces.

"Today, this population only wants lasting peace so that they can return to their home environment," the governor of North Kivu province, Constant Ndima Kongba, told reporters at the airport.

EU humanitarian aid DRC

EU Ambassador to the DRC Jean-Marc Chataigner and French Ambassador to the DRC Bruno Aubert with the governor of the province of North Kivu, Lt Gen Constant Ndima Kongba, as they receive the humanitarian aid on March 10, 2023. PHOTO | ARLETTE BASHIZI | REUTERS

Support immediate needs


The European Union last week promised to send aid worth over $50 million to North Kivu to support immediate needs such as nutrition, healthcare, water and sanitation, shelter and protection.

A second plane with EU-funded supplies is scheduled to arrive next week, the EU's ambassador to Democratic Republic of Congo Jean-Marc Chataigner said at Goma airport.

"It is a real opportunity for us to show our total solidarity with the Congolese population," he said.

Insecurity has spiralled in Congo's volatile east over the past year, partly due to the major comeback of the M23.

But with regional focus turned to North Kivu, attacks by other groups have also intensified in neighbouring Ituri province in recent months.

Eastern Congo has struggled with instability and conflicts since the 1990s that have killed millions and given rise to dozens of militias, some of which remain active.