Speech by Clémence Caraux-Pelletan, Director, DRC INGO Forum Secretariat
Geneva, Friday 8 October 2021
Colleagues from UN agencies and NGOs,
I am very pleased to be here today to share experiences and views from the International NGOs operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The DRC INGO Forum is a coordination body gathering more than 100 International NGOs implementing emergency, development and peacebuilding programmes for the benefit of the Congolese population. Too often, protracted and complex crises like in the DRC, are not given the necessary attention and support, and so, as actors on the ground, INGOs continue to raise alarm.
The facts and figures presented here today provide a macro picture: the 27 million people currently facing food insecurity, the five million people internally displaced, the colossal protection risks, including an increase in sexual and gender-based violence, as well as ongoing violence by Non-State Armed Groups and State Actors.
We become numb to these figures, but we must make concerted efforts to place a face on each statistic, remembering humanity and maintaining dignity for the girls, boys, women, and men our INGO members work for and alongside.
Figures cannot make us experience the situation in South Kivu or Kasai Oriental where food insecurity leaves households questioning where their next meal will come from, and relying on negative coping mechanisms, such as sending children to work in mines, in prostitution, or to engage in illegal petty trade. They will not make us even imagine the despair of families witnessing their homes and villages being looted, or of women raped while witnessing the slaughter of their loved ones. Facts and figures will not help you fully grasp the actual situation of displaced families arriving in Bunia, Ituri, to find refuge in a school with themselves little to live on, while preventing children from receiving an education.
These are not exaggerated statements. This is the reality the people of DRC, and our INGO staff members, as actors on the ground, face every-single-day. This is a call to all policy makers to take definite steps towards ending such dreadful situations, protecting civilians and making decisions based on the needs and reality.
DRC is among the longest-standing and most complex humanitarian contexts in the world, made of a variety of crises most of which could amount to a single nation-wide crise elsewhere in the world. It is also the world’s most neglected displacement crisis in 20201 and may well be again in 2021. To say the least, global attention is insufficient. The gap between the humanitarian needs and the funding available is increasing year after year. In fact, during 2021, some governments have even confirmed a reduction of their volume of funding to the DRC. Reductions that are in no way consistent with the increase and complexity of humanitarian needs.
We, as the INGO community in the DRC, want to respond to the increasing needs! But this requires commitment and financial support from you as Member States, and it is needed now. As we have heard here today, as we are now entering the last quarter of 2021, the Humanitarian Response Plan for this year is only 27 percent funded.
How can we justify that a country facing crises of such magnitude; where the levels of need in only one part of the country surpass the needs seen in whole countries elsewhere; is doing so in the shadows?
The answer is that we cannot. And we will not.
We have a collective responsibility to act. Tackling food insecurity, conflict and forced displacements, human rights violations, and gender-based violence, as well as bad governance and inequality: this requires attention but - above all - it requires political will and commitment.
We hereby call for the following actions:
As Member States and donors, you must acknowledge the grave imbalance between humanitarian needs and the level of funding, and put the humanitarian imperative and evidence at the center of decision making. In addition, strengthening the links between emergency response, development aid, and peacebuilding efforts is of paramount importance to ensure sustainable impact. Actors in DRC have made concrete and collective efforts to implement the Nexus approach. Our aim is to reduce humanitarian needs in the long term, but this is not a one-off solution, nor is it a magical solution to the MONUSCO transition. It is a better way to work together towards more resilience to shocks, but it will not make these shocks disappear altogether. This is why innovative ways of delivering flexible and longer-term funding must be adopted.
As implementing actors, whether INGOs, UN agencies or National NGOs, we need to constantly improve aid efficiency, accountability, and fight misconduct within humanitarian programming. We have taken significant steps - individually and collectively - to address such issues, and remain committed to the task. The INGO community in DRC has engaged in efforts towards more transparency, more shared capacities and good practices. But more will need to happen across actors to ensure concrete actions and improved coordination and really make a change that counts.
For humanitarian-, development-, and peacebuilding efforts to matter, and for long-lasting change to become a reality, the DRC national and provincial authorities need to embrace accountability to the women, men, and children they serve. A positive long-term transformation will only be possible if structural problems of governance are addressed with a continued fight against corruption, fraud, sexual exploitation and abuse and misconduct of all sorts. These authorities need to take proactive measures to facilitate Aid and tackle bureaucratic impediments that negatively impact the delivery of humanitarian response. Without improved governance and stability, the efforts and funds invested by donor countries in education, health systems and resource management may not be transformed into sustainable solutions.
Excellencies, representatives of the Member States, colleagues,
Our actions matter. With the support from Member States and other donors, the humanitarian community responds efficiently to emergencies, delivers recovery activities to reduce vulnerabilities, and supports peacebuilding initiatives. Every day the NGOs deliver assistance to many thousands of citizens throughout the country and steps are taken to reduce needs in the long term.
Without closing our eyes to the humanitarian needs of the millions we hope to widen the narrative about the country, from being seen as merely an emergency that is falling off the radar as media and political interests lay elsewhere, to a country where innovative solutions for long term sustainable impact is possible.
NGOs, we have the capacity, the skills and the commitment. We also need your commitment to continue this path.
Together we can do better - and reach further.
We are ever so thankful for your commitment and as we say in the DRC; “On est ensemble”!
Secrétariat du Forum des ONGI en RDC
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