DR Congo is home to a long-running crisis, but the nature of the crisis is changing, and humanitarian needs are escalating rapidly. From 2017 to 2018, the estimated number of people in need of urgent aid has been revised from 8.5M up to 13.1M – an increase of over 50%.

DR Congo now has more internally displaced people than any other African country. In October 2017, the crisis in several provinces within DR Congo was declared an ‘L3 emergency’ – the highest level recognised by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – placing it alongside the crises in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen in terms of severity.

What does this mean, in practical terms?

Families fearing violence flee to neighbouring villages, often losing their crops and means of income. They live in unsanitary conditions, vulnerable to exploitation, while their children have dropped out of school. Health needs are widespread and often urgent: in 2017, over 50,000 cases of cholera were reported.

People’s lives have been pitched into a void of uncertainty with no visible endpoint. Each day they struggle to meet basic needs while they worry about health and security and wait for news on when it may be possible to return home.


Medair works in some of the most severely affected areas of DR Congo: Kasaï and Ituri Provinces, and in Nord Kivu and Sud Kivu. Vulnerable people living in these areas urgently need life-saving interventions. Funding and interest in the DR Congo are far from commensurate with the vast need. Medair cooperates with partners and funders to target its interventions, reaching the most vulnerable and least served. 

Health & Nutrition – We support health facilities to provide quality services to the most vulnerable, according to who needs care rather than who can afford it. We respond to disease outbreaks and population displacement by supporting health facilities in the hardest hit areas.

Rapid Response Medical Teams – When violence forces the mass movement of people, it overwhelms the existing health systems in host communities. As a result, many people struggle to access health care. In response, Medair’s medical teams operate mobile clinics that can start treating patients for common diseases and malnutrition within days of receiving an alert.

Safe Drinking Water and Hygiene – We work in communities, schools, and health facilities to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities and practices. This is vital to halting the spread of deadly but preventable waterborne diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea.

Access – In remote forest communities reachable only on foot, we build bridges to facilitate safer and speedier travel, often enabling motorcycles to reach these communities for the first time. This opens up humanitarian access, while enabling communities to reach the nearest health facility more quickly, and widening economic opportunity through better access to markets.