Sweden increases humanitarian aid to Congo

Sweden increases humanitarian aid to Congo
The Swedish government has announced an increase in development aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo in response to the growing refugee crisis in the east of the war-torn African state.

The situation for people living in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo has deteriorated so fast in recent weeks that the Swedish government has announced a 40 million kronor ($5 million) increase in humanitarian aid.

According to the minister for development aid, Gunilla Carlsson, Sweden has relatively strong practical knowledge of the situation in the region, and she therefore believes that the extra funds can quickly benefit those most in need.

“We have the capability to act swiftly to provide additional funds of around 40 million kronor in this incredibly strained humanitarian situation,” Carlsson said to news agency TT on Saturday after the decision had been taken.

A quarter of the funds will be quickly distributed from the foreign office to the UNHCR, according to Carlsson. The remaining 30 million kronor will be distributed by the aid organization Sida which must await formal requests from organizations representing those in need in the region. In this case it primarily concerns United Nations organizations.

“We know that requests will arrive any day now and we want to be prepared,”

The money is new in the sense that it is taken from a relatively substantial fund in the Swedish aid budget that is set aside for humanitarian crises.

“Yes, unfortunately. It would be much better if we could dedicate our resources to development and reconstruction than humanitarian disasters, but there is now unfortunately one such disaster,” said Gunilla Carlsson.

The situation in eastern Congo has deteriorated further since August when fighting intensified between government troops and rebel groups. More than a quarter of a million people have been forced to flee their homes to add to the 800,000 already displaced by the ongoing conflicts in the massive African country.

Swedish aid to Congo is estimated to amount to 220 million kronor.