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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Actor Gugu Mbatha-Raw calls for urgent support for thousands displaced in Democratic Republic of the Congo

UNHCR goodwill ambassador Gugu Mbatha-Raw visits a resettlement site in Kahele, Democratic Replublic of the Congo

(Picture: UNHCR)

Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw is calling for urgent support for millions of displaced people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), following a visit to the country last week.

During her trip the British Hollywood actor, who is also an ambassador for the UN’s refugee agency, met with families experiencing life-threatening hardship due to ongoing conflict, increased living costs, dwindling support from the international community, and the effects of climate change.

I’m extremely concerned,” she said following her visit. “Away from the headlines, millions of displaced people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are struggling to survive.

“First, they were forced to flee unimaginable violence, and now, due to severe underfunding and shrinking life-saving assistance, they are forced to make impossible choices that no one should have to make.

“As the situation worsens women and girls are also at greater risk of violence. We cannot allow this to continue.”

Deadly intercommunal violence has erupted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, displacing thousands of people since July.

Clashes reportedly started over customary taxes on agricultural land use between the Teke and Yaka communities.

More than 142 people have been killed, and as of October 6 some 27,000 people – most of them women and children – have been displaced by the violence and need urgent assistance. Nearly 3,000 more have sought refuge in the neighbouring Republic of the Congo.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) - the UN’s refugee agency - runs lifesaving programmes providing shelter, support and essential items for women, but funding for these interventions is not matching the growing need.

Ambassador Mbatha-Raw is now calling on governments, the private sector and individuals to provide urgent funding to the UNCHR, to help meet the most pressing needs of those displaced.

Without such support, the situation will continue to deteriorate, and UNHCR fears further cuts in aid will be catastrophic.

She said: “In the Democratic Republic of Congo, as in many forgotten emergencies around the world, displaced families don’t have enough shelter, food or clean water to survive.

“In the same way that the world has shown solidarity and compassion to those displaced by other crises, including the war in Ukraine, we must now unite to support those in the DRC and other underfunded emergencies.”

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