Conflict and escalating violence have uprooted a record 6.9 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, mostly in the east of the country, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said.
The conflict between M23 rebels and militias loyal to the DRC's government has intensified in the eastern province of North Kivu since early October, particularly north of the provincial capital Goma.
The UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM) said many people who have fled their homes but stayed within the DRC's borders desperately needed help to meet their basic needs.
"The IOM is intensifying its efforts to address the complex and persistent crisis in the DRC as the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) climbs to 6.9 million people across the country -- the highest number recorded yet," it said in a statement.
"With ongoing conflict and escalating violence, the DRC is facing one of the largest internal displacement and humanitarian crises in the world."
The M23, which has captured swathes of territory in the east since 2021, is one of several militias holding sway over much of the region despite the presence of international peacekeepers.
The IOM said that as of October 2023, about 5.6 million internally displaced people were living in the eastern provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri, and Tanganyika.
"Conflict has been reported as the primary reason for displacement," it said.
In North Kivu up to one million people have been displaced due the ongoing conflict with the M23.
'Storm of crises'
"As the security situation, particularly in North Kivu and Ituri, continues to deteriorate, movements become more frequent and humanitarian needs soar," the IOM said.
The UN's humanitarian agency OCHA says almost 200,000 people have fled their homes because of the fighting since 1 October in Rutshuru and Masisi territory, north of Goma, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in eastern DRC.
"For decades, the Congolese people have been living through a storm of crises," said Fabien Sambussy, the IOM's DRC mission chief.
"The most recent escalation of the conflict has uprooted more people in less time like rarely seen before. We urgently need to deliver help to those most in need."
The IOM said that on top of the large-scale humanitarian crisis in the east, other regions have experienced conflict, insecurity, and disasters such as floods and landslides.
More than two-thirds of the DRC's internally displaced people live with host families.
Only $37 million has been received of the $100 million sought by the IOM for its DRC operations.