Minister Kaag to travel to Congo crisis region

On Monday and Tuesday development minister Sigrid Kaag will visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A significant proportion of her visit will be spent visiting Tanganyika province, a crisis-plagued region in the east of the country. ‘In the DRC, a forgotten conflict rages on,’ said the minister.

‘Millions of people have been killed, wounded or displaced. The impression the region gives is devastating: sexual violence, disease and malnutrition. Despite repeated attempts to restore peace and security to the DRC, violence between armed groups has broken out again and again. The result is one of the worst humanitarian disasters the world is currently facing. We cannot abandon these people.’

The DRC has a long history of violence and conflict, with over five million people dying between 1998 and 2006 alone as a result. And today the situation is once again critical. People are dying every day due to human rights violations. The UN World Food Programme fears that, in the months ahead, additional tens of thousands will die as a result of disease and famine. In Tanganyika province the minister will meet with displaced persons, emergency workers and representatives of the local authorities. The province is currently home to half a million people fleeing violence, who must manage to survive in primitive conditions. Ms Kaag will be accompanied on her visit to the province by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Sir Mark Lowcock. Directly afterwards Sir Mark will report on developments in the region to the UN Security Council in New York; this month the Netherlands holds the Security Council presidency. 

Slums

The minister’s visit will begin in Kinshasa, however. Here, she will meet with members of the Congolese government, civil society organisations and representatives of , the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO). These discussions will focus not only on the humanitarian station but also on the political process in the DRC, where scheduled elections have now been postponed several times. The minister will also visit one of the city’s biggest slums and meet people who live there.

Over the past five years, the international community has made a total of $2.8 billion in emergency aid available to the DRC. Since 2013 the Netherlands has directly contributed around €45 million to help more than 140 million people in the region. Moreover, other activities are being carried out to enhance peace and stability in the country and the surrounding region, including programmes to tackle sexual violence and poverty. Ms Kaag’s impressions and experiences during the visit will provide valuable input for the policy document she is currently working on, which will be presented in mid-May.

Ministry responsible