Humanitarian Assistance in DR Congo: Relief aid and Rape of Women

by admin on May 25, 2011


By: Fidele Ayu Lumeya

People in the West of the Congo are left with the

impression that ‘Relief and development aid comes as a reward to

those in Eastern Congo who took guns to kill and rape each other rather than to those

from West who refrained from such behavior?’

Relief aid in the Congo is unevenly distributed even though needs are

everywhere the same. Aid distribution is crisis-driven rather than

being guided by distribution based on needs. Aid agencies working

for decades in the West of the country were forced to move eastward,

thanks to the distribution patterns stimulated by the well known CNN-effect.

While the East of the country has and is still experiencing war and

rape, the West is experiencing destitution. Most Congolese think of

their socio-economic base line as the period between independence and

the Mobutu-instigated coup of November 1965 after which things went

from bad to worse. For a majority of Congolese people, life

conditions have deteriorated severely, well below the base line level

at the time of independence.

Most Congolese have shifted from an economic status which included

house and land ownership to owning nothing. At the national level,

the whole of Congolese society has moved from relative well-being to


In 2006 the disintegration of the Congo as a state was at stake,

especially for those living in the North-Eastern of the country. This sense

of disintegration was not shared with people in the West of the

country where degrading economic destitution was widely evident.

Thanks to the liberalization of diamond extraction in the two Kasai

provinces and the illegal exploitation and sale of Angolan diamonds

by the people of Bandundu in most part, unplanned urbanization in the West of the

country is taking place thus increasing the pressure on an already

fragile environment.

Diamond traffickers use their monetary power to bribe public officers

in charge of land adjudication and allocation, buying and building

houses without giving any consideration to the resultant negative

effects on the environment. Heavy rains in these provinces have

exacerbated environment degradation now apparent in soil and

fertility erosion and in the loss of houses and lives. Health

problems among the general populace, but especially among children,

have increased precipitously.

In this context of general destitution, many crisis-affected communities have misconception about humanitarian aid. For some, humanitarian aid is perceived as the only source of hope, other perceived it as a curse other a blessing but never in any time it will replace any long term development.

But isn’t it that in crisis time what counts is not your deeds bus instead how people feel?

Maya Angelou once said that it’s not about what you say or do to

people that they will remember, but it is instead about how you make

people feel.

Fidele Ayu Lumeya
Executive Director Congolese American Council for Peace and Development,CACPD. “No Development without Peace and Justice”

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