Although elections in October 2006 were declared largely free and fair, the security situation remains volatile particularly in the east where a number of rebel forces continue to operate. Ongoing conflict in North Kivu in the east has left almost one million people displaced, facing continued insecurity and high levels of sexual violence.
Humanitarian Update – Violence in North Kivu
In October 2008, an estimated 250,000 people were newly displaced as a result of escalating violence in North Kivu between different armed groups. A number of Merlin-supported health facilities were looted or damaged. In order to deal with the sudden influx of displaced people in Goma and the surrounding areas, Merlin put together and operated a mobile clinic in the initial stages of the emergency. It has been estimated that another 100,000 people have been displaced since June 2009 after the return of violence in the area.
HOW MERLIN IS HELPING:
Merlin has been working in the DRC since 1997 when we provided emergency medical assistance to refugees and displaced people in the east of the country. The team comprising of 30 international staff and 350 Congolese supports over 200 health facilities and five hospitals in North Kivu and Maniema provinces, serving a population of over 1.5 million people.
Primary and secondary health care
We helped 990,684 people in 2008
Maniema and North Kivu provinces were badly affected by the civil war in DRC, which ended in 2002. Since 2002 Merlin has been working in Maniema and North Kivu Provinces to repair clinics and hospitals and to provide primary and secondary health services for the isolated populations living in these areas. We currently support over 150 health facilities and several hospitals in these areas. We are working closely with the Ministries of Health in both provinces in order to strengthen their capacity to deliver health services.
Sexual and gender-based violence
We are serving 300,000 people
As a result of ongoing insecurity in North Kivu, women and children here are at particular risk of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Rape is habitually used as a weapon of war causing alarmingly high rates of HIV/AIDS well as medical and psychological trauma. We are working to change attitudes amongst communities in conflict-affected areas, ensuring that sexual violence is no longer tolerated. We are also training to health staff so that they have the necessary skills to provide the correct treatment for those who have been raped. The project is also increasing the technical capacity of the Ministry of Health and community leaders in the prevention and response to SGBV.
Addressing the health needs of war-affected populations
We are helping 427,833 people
In North Kivu, hundreds of thousands of people are now displaced by the ongoing conflict. Merlin is running four programmes in conflict-affected areas of North Kivu, providing health care to a population of over 400,000 in the worst affected Rutshuru territory, ensuring they have access to medical treatment when they need it.
Water and sanitation
We are reaching 35,000 people
Merlin is reducing the risk of water-borne disease outbreaks by renovating water sources in Birambizo in North Kivu and Pangi in Maniema, and by raising community awareness of good hygiene practices. So far, over 78,000 people now have improved access to clean water, reducing the risk of diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery and eye infections.
- As part of our emergency responses to outbreaks of violence in North Kivu in October 2008, we:
- Responded to cholera outbreaks through water chlorination and the establishment of cholera treatment units in various areas including Rutshuru and Goma
- Were the first INGO to return to some areas directly affected by the conflict, including Rutshuru town
- Established mobile medical clinics which promptly responded to the health needs of displaced people
- We have scaled up our health support in Maniema province from 73 to 145 health facilities, including eight general referral hospitals and Kindu General Hospital
- Last year, Merlin treated 990,684 people as part of our primary health care programmes in Maniema and North Kivu
- Merlin became the co-lead of the UN Health Cluster in Butembo, Grand Nord Kivu
Donors supporting Merlin’s work
DFID, ECHO, Global Fund, OFDA, UNICEF, Pooled Funds and JOAC