Democratic Republic of the Congo Appeal
Humanitarian Action for Children
UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children appeal helps support the agency’s work as it provides conflict- and disaster-affected children with access to water, sanitation, nutrition, education, health and protection services. Return to main appeal page.
Democratic Republic of the Congo snapshot
- The Democratic Republic of the Congo is facing one of the world’s most complex and protracted crises. More than 15 million children bear the brunt of an escalation in armed conflict and recurrent disease outbreaks. These exacerbate chronic poverty, systemic weaknesses and existing population vulnerability. Increased military operations are expected in 2023, alongside rising tensions in the run-up to general elections scheduled for December 2023.
- UNICEF is adopting a needs-based approach to respond to a multifaceted and intensifying humanitarian crisis, aiming to ensure that 75 per cent of children in need are assisted. To provide a holistic humanitarian response, UNICEF will continue to offer integrated, life-saving assistance while at the same time enhancing community resilience and social cohesion, to pave the way for longer-term interventions. A systematic approach to scaling up the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse and gender-based violence prevention and response will be integrated within all programmatic interventions.
- UNICEF requires US$862.4 million to address the acute needs of children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2023. Timely, flexible and multi-year funding are essential in supporting UNICEF to reach the most vulnerable, crisis-affected children.
Key planned results for 2023
995,800 children with severe wasting admitted for treatment
2 million children/caregivers accessing community-based mental health and psychosocial support
1.7 million children accessing formal or non-formal education, including early learning
3.4 million people accessing a sufficient quantity and quality of water
Funding requirements for 2023
Country needs and strategy
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is home to one of the world’s most complex and protracted crises: around 26.4 million people, including 15.4 million children, are bearing the brunt of an escalation in armed conflict and recurrent disease outbreaks that are exacerbating chronic poverty, systemic weaknesses and vulnerability. The scale of humanitarian needs and protection concerns remains massive.
In 2022, the country hosts the second-highest number of internally displaced people in the world. Population displacement continues to rise, with more than 1.29 million people displaced between January and July 2022. At least 97 per cent of displaced people live in Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu Provinces, which have seen a growing number of targeted attacks against civilians and infrastructure, including sites for internally displaced people, schools and health facilities.
Protection concerns remain paramount. More than 2,500 grave violations against children were verified as of September 2022. Recruitment or use of children in armed forces and armed groups is increasing, as is killing and maiming of children, which increased by 10 percent in 2022 compared with 2021.
Humanitarian access is constrained, and the presence of partners is diminishing in some areas due to insecurity and operational restrictions. With the deployment of the East African Community Joint Regional Force in the eastern part of the country, increased military operations are expected in 2023, alongside mounting tensions in the run-up to general elections scheduled for December 2023.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo continued to face epidemic outbreaks in 2022. As of November, the country had experienced two new Ebola outbreaks, and the measles situation remained critical, with the number of suspect cases reaching more than 122,414 (with 1,444 deaths reported) – vastly exceeding reported measles cases in 2021. The country has one of the highest risks of cross-border spillover spread of the current Ebola outbreak in Uganda, which requires urgent anticipatory action in three provinces. The number of suspected cholera cases also increased by 206 per cent compared with the same period in 2021, with 12,797 suspected cholera cases and 243 deaths reported. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had a major impact on all primary health services, including the availability of essential care and routine immunization.
The nutrition situation remains critical. As of September 2022, 17 per cent of health zones were on nutritional alert and the number of emergency alerts had increased by 84 per cent compared with the same period in 2021. To reduce malnutrition in the long-term, UNICEF’s response aims to increase the proportion of infants aged 0-5 months who are exclusively breastfed to 61 per cent and the proportion of children aged 6-23 months who are receiving the minimum dietary diversity to 25 per cent (by 2025).
Throughout the country, more than 1.3 million children under age 5 require treatment for severe wasting; 3.9 million women/children need emergency protection services; 6.6 million children require emergency water and sanitation; and 2.7 million children require emergency education support.
In 2023, UNICEF will remain among the first responders delivering a needs-based, timely and integrated life-saving response to reach vulnerable children. A gender approach will be systematically integrated throughout the response.
Aiming to enable holistic humanitarian assistance, UNICEF will provide immediate access to essential services while enhancing community resilience and paving the way for longer-term interventions using a nexus approach. Localization through community engagement and the empowerment of local actors will remain the backbone of UNICEF’s strategy. Such a strategy allows for improved effectiveness, greater acceptance and enhanced access to hard-to-reach areas, while increasing overall efficiency and value for money.
At the onset of crises, UNICEF and partners will deliver rapid response to save lives and mitigate the immediate impact. UNICEF's localized Rapid Response Mechanism (called UniRR) will focus on population movements and natural hazards, while the rapid response to cholera focused on suspected cases will help to stop the transmission of that disease. UNICEF will continue strengthening the linkages between health, nutrition, water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH), education and child protection and gender-based violence programming. This will enable more integrated humanitarian assistance and increase children's access to quality and inclusive assistance in a protective and child-friendly environment. When appropriate, UNICEF will strengthen the use of humanitarian cash transfers to address urgent needs through multipurpose transfers or to meet sectoral outputs.
To support responses to public health emergencies, UNICEF, with the Government and partners, will contribute to the coordination and response of several outbreak response pillars. Specific community needs will also be addressed, including through support to the continuity of essential social services for children, adolescents and women.
Children associated with armed groups and unaccompanied or separated children will receive appropriate and individualized care, focusing on innovative reintegration programmes. To save the lives of children, health, nutrition and WASH efforts will focus on improving access to basic WASH services, primary health care and immunization. They will also support early detection of severe wasting and subsequent referrals and treatment in the community and in health facilities. Preventive interventions – such as infant and young child feeding counselling – will be reinforced in 2023.
For UNICEF, prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse is a top priority, along with prevention of gender-based violence. The organization will continue to enforce a holistic and systematic approach to scaling up related prevention measures within all its interventions through its gender, gender-based violence and prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse mechanism.
Finally, UNICEF will continue to lead the WASH, Nutrition and Education Clusters, the Child Protection Area of Responsibility and the working group coordinating distribution of essential household items. UNICEF also coleads the United Nations Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on Grave Violations against Children in Situations of Armed Conflict.
Find out more about UNICEF's work
Humanitarian Action is at the core of UNICEF’s mandate to realize the rights of every child. This edition of Humanitarian Action for Children – UNICEF’s annual humanitarian fundraising appeal – describes the ongoing crises affecting children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.