The humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to deteriorate. After two decades of almost uninterrupted conflict, with violent clashes seriously affecting several provinces, some 7 million people are now are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Of them, 4 million are displaced after fleeing for their lives, often leaving everything behind.
In 2016 alone, one million more people were displaced by the violence, mainly in Kasai province. Patricia Danzi, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) director of operations for Africa, visited the area in mid-October to support the ICRC teams working on the ground. What she saw was communities and families scattered far from home and struggling to survive, villages that had been abandoned, looted and burnt to the ground, and a situation made worse by the lack of basic services, such as health care and sanitation.
After visiting a village where most of the houses had been burnt down, Patricia Danzi said: “It is a very sad scene when you see all the houses destroyed, no one left. And you can only hope that the majority of the people were unharmed, but this is unfortunately not the case. So many people also died either during the fighting, or then later during the difficult displacement in the forest.”
Some walked for miles. Many spent several months in the forest, living in extremely tough conditions, with no access to health care, food or shelter from the elements, waiting for the fighting to move on, hastily burying their dead.
Benjamin Tshibuabua has just returned to his village near the city of Kananga, after months spent in the bush. He describes his ordeal: “While we were in the bush, they looted everything. The goats… It was terrible. We spent five months in the bush. Five months. Such suffering. How we suffered! Sometimes we only ate once, twice or three times a week. The other days we went to bed hungry.”
There are still very few humanitarian organizations working on the ground here. Before the crisis, Kasai, though poor, had been calm and humanitarian efforts were obviously focused elsewhere in the country. Now we need to mobilize significant human and financial resources to meet people’s needs, the true scale of which is only gradually becoming apparent. And yet, in recent years, donors have increasingly lost interest in the DRC.
Today, millions of Congolese people need help to start over and rebuild their lives.
Location: Kasai-Central Province, Kananga and the surrounding area
Duration: 4 minutes and 29 seconds
Format: H264 Mov HD
Camera operator: Mark Kamau / Birom Seck
Languages: English and French
ICRC reference: AV708N
Date: October 2017
Copyright: ICRC – rights free
Patricia Danzi, director of operations for the ICRC in Africa, looks from the car window at one destroyed house after another along the road between Ndomba and Tshimbundu.
Panning shot of destroyed houses.
00:12–00:30 (3 shots)
Patricia Danzi and the ICRC team assess the damage to a village that has been abandoned and destroyed.
00:30–00:44 (3 shots)
In the same village, meeting with the few residents who have returned to rebuild their homes.
00:44–01:04 (5 shots)
Various shots of the destruction and fire damage to houses.
01:04–01:18 (2 shots)
On the road to the village of Kakumba.
01:18–01:35 (2 shots)
Patricia Danzi meets Charlotte, originally from the village of Tshimbundu, now in Kakumba.
Interview with Patricia Danzi, ICRC director of operations for Africa (speaking English)
“We are here in Tshimbundu, a village 5 to 6 hours away from the main city here Kananga. We’re with the family, Charlotte and her newborn baby. They have been displaced by the violence here.” 16"
“Her small daughter, she was born in the forest, so it was very very difficult for them: no health care, very little food. So now they are back and we are trying to bring to them some support, material support but also moral support.” 16"
“Earlier in the day, we passed by the place that was destroyed where Charlotte and her kids, her nine kids, came from. And we saw all the houses burnt, destroyed. There was nothing left. All the goods that they had were either looted or burnt.” 18"
“It is a very sad scene when you see all the houses destroyed, no one left. And you can only hope that the majority of the people were unharmed, but this is unfortunately not the case. So many people also died either during the fighting, or then later during the difficult displacement in the forest.” 20"
Same interview with Patricia Danzi, ICRC director of operations for Africa (speaking French)
“On est avec Charlotte. Elle était déplacée suite à la violence qui s’est produite dans la province. Et puis elle est partie en brousse dans la forêt, elle a donné naissance à la petite fille qui est aujourd’hui aussi avec nous, saine et sauve, mais ils ont passé des moments, des mois très, très difficiles.” 23"
“Plus tôt dans la journée, on est passés par le village d’où vient Charlotte et sa petite fille. Tout était brûlé. Il n’y avait plus personne. Les biens que les familles et les villageois avaient étaient soit pillés, soit brûlés. Ça fait mal de voir ça.” 18"
“On a juste espéré que l’on trouverait les villageois quelque part en vie. Malheureusement, tout le monde n’a pas survécu. Soit les personnes ont été tuées pendant la violence, ou des personnes ont perdu la vie dans le déplacement qui était très dur dans la brousse.” 17"
03:43–03:52 (2 shots)
House belonging to Benjamin Tshibuabua, near the city of Kananga.
Interview with Benjamin Tshibuabua, who has just returned to his village, near the city of Kananga (speaking French)
“While we were in the bush, they looted everything. The goats… It was terrible. We spent five months in the bush. Five months. Such suffering. How we suffered!” 18"
“Sometimes we only ate once, twice or three times a week. The other days we went to bed hungry.” 9"
04:19–04:29 (2 shots)
Benjamin and his family work in the fields.
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For further information, please contact:
Pedram Yazdi, ICRC Kinshasa: + 243 81 70 08 536
Aurélie Lachant, ICRC Geneva: + 41 79 244 64 05
To find out what the ICRC is doing to put an end to attacks on health workers and patients, go to