Humanitarian sources report that on the morning of 13 November, armed individuals attacked a humanitarian convoy in Fizi territory, South Kivu Province. During the attack, two aid workers were abducted and three of their vehicles were set on fire.
The Acting Humanitarian Coordinator for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ms. Suzanna Tkalec, expresses deep concern over the increasing attacks against aid workers and the continued deterioration of the security situation in eastern DRC. This is gravely impacting humanitarian access. “I welcome the safe release of the two aid workers late last night,” said Ms. Tkalec. “However, I reiterate that humanitarians should not be targeted. The abduction of aid workers is unacceptable and a serious violation of international humanitarian law.”
She added: “I strongly condemn this act and call on armed actors to preserve the humanitarian space and respect people’s right to assistance.”
Several incidents directly targeted aid workers in October; an aid worker was abducted in Masisi, North Kivu, and serious incidents against a humanitarian convoy in Oicha forced several aid agencies to suspend ongoing operations, depriving more than 100,000 people in need of assistance. In late October, armed elements shot a nurse at a health centre supported by an aid group in Fataki, north of Bunia, in Ituri Province.
Since January, more than 217 security incidents have directly targeted aid workers, causing at least three deaths and around 20 injuries. Nearly 30 aid workers have been abducted between 1 January and 13 November 2023.
Recent clashes between armed groups in North Kivu Province have displaced more than 450,000 people since early October. North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri Provinces collectively host more than 5.5 million internally displaced people.
In this highly concerning security context, humanitarian partners continue operating on the ground and increasing their engagement by providing water, food, health care and shelters, where possible. Since July 2023, around 3 million people have received life-saving assistance in the conflict-affected areas of North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri. However, many needs remain unmet due to access restrictions caused by the continued deterioration of the security situation.
Ms. Tkalec added: “I call on all conflict parties to ensure the safe and unimpeded movement of aid workers. I also call for measures to prevent damage and attacks against civilian infrastructure, including health facilities and schools.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).