This year is like no other for the DRC. On the one hand, the extent of the suffering of the population is beginning to be recognized. Over four million people have perished as a result of years of continuing conflict, a number which increases by some 1,200 every day and which is equivalent to an Asian tsunami each and every six months. DRC has been called the most deadly humanitarian catastrophe in 60 years. The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator has called it the greatest challenge currently facing the international community.
On the other hand, never since independence has the prospect for the country emerging from despotism, crisis and chaos appeared so bright. Last year, 25 million Congolese enthusiastically registered to vote and in December overwhelmingly endorsed a
constitution that forms the basis for a democratic state and opens the way to the first free and fair elections in over 40 years.
The 2006 DRC Action Plan adopts a unique approach. Within the context of one strategic framework humanitarian priorities and programmes have been identified for each region of this vast country and linked with a limited number of high-impact stability programmes which themselves fast-track key elements of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). The Plan has been developed with the active participation of the full range of partners in the DRC and validated through a consultative process with field-based donors, UN Agencies and the NGO community.
The Action Plan is more than a fundraising tool - it represents a comprehensive approach to humanitarian coordination, strategic planning and monitoring. By including stability programmes in the overall strategy, the UN is foreseeing measures needed to rapidly bridge the gap between humanitarian action and the development programme that will be launched to meet public expectations after the election of a new government.
The humanitarian component of the Plan you are about to read is ambitiousвЂ”considerably more than those of past years. Anything short of a bold attempt to address the dramatic scale and scope of the humanitarian needs in the DRC will leave millions of innocent people exposed to continued suffering and death.
With over four million unnecessary deaths, the time has come for a concerted and intensified effort to address the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in the Democratic Republic of Congo and to give the Congolese people hope that a better future is within their grasp.
Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator
Democratic Republic of Congo