Ambiguity of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the face of its IDPs


With more than a million internally displaced people, the DRC is one of the countries most affected by displacement, mainly due to armed conflict and serious human rights violations. Most of these IDPs are found in the eastern provinces of the country; most of them live with host families, and receive little or no humanitarian assistance.[1][2]

This exponential number contrasts with the legal position of the DRC, whose ambiguous government position is due to at least a number of factors including but not limited to hesitation to accede to relevant international instruments and lack of national legislation and policy on IDPs.

  1. Lack of enthusiasm to adhere to IDPs protection instruments

The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and the Pinheiro Principles are the main non-binding instruments adopted within the framework of the United Nations for the protection of IDPs. The DRC is a party to the only binding instruments on IDPs, namely the 2006 Protocols to the Compact of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and the [3][4][5][6][7] 2009 African Union  Convention on the Protection and Assistance  of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa.

In addition, the DRC signed the 2009 Kampala Convention on the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa in 2010. In 2014, the National Assembly and Senate of the DRC adopted Law 14/025 authorizing the ratification of the Kampala Convention. It appears from an African Union document that the DRC has finally been a party to the Convention since 23 February 2022. [8]

It was therefore necessary to wait 12 years since the signature, and 8 years since the vote of the ratification law for the government to deposit the instruments of ratification. This long delay is eloquent and expresses in itself the procrastination of the Congolese government to commit.

  1. Lack of legislation and internal policy for IDPs

If there is one principle common to all the above-mentioned instruments, it is that of the primary responsibility of the State in the protection of IDPs. This protection includes the adoption of domestic legislation and national policy, and the establishment of substantial bodies and resources for this purpose.

The DRC is far from complying with these requirements. Look, there is no specific national policy for the protection of IDPs. Nor is there any institution responsible for the protection of IDPs, although in fact the National Refugee Commission and the Ministry of Social Affairs, Humanitarian Action and National Solidarity intervene on a number of occasions, the former in registration and the latter in the coordination of assistance.[9]

In FINANCE LAW NO. 21/029 OF 31 DECEMBER 2021 FOR THE 2022 FINANCIAL YEAR, no line is allocated to assistance to displaced persons. The same is true of budgets in previous years, which literally ignore the vulnerability of IDPs and their right to receive assistance from the state.

When it comes to legislation, the DRC is far from being the model. A draft law on protection and assistance to IDPs was submitted to Parliament in 2014, but was never debated. However, the Constitution classifies this as a matter of exclusive competence of the central government.[10]


TheCongolese authorities show an ambivalent attitude to say the least on the issue of protection and assistance to IDPs. This situation leaves IDPs  in a legal situation full of uncertainties, particularly with regard to the restitution of their property and access to remedies, both against the Congolese State, non-State actors, etc.

Could it be for fear of engaging in new obligations when the country does not have the means to assume them?

The adoption by the DRC of national legislation in accordance with its international commitments is a necessity and an emergency. Perhaps it will contribute to the return of peace to the country!

[1] The Democratic Republic of Congo currently has more than 5 million IDPs, according to UNHCR’s website

[2] Namely in North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri and Tanganyika.

[3] E/CN.4/1998/53/Add.2, issued on 11 February 1998

[4] Principles on housing and property restitution in the case of refugees and others
displaced persons, 2005.

[5] C. Jacobs, Protection Frameworks for Refugees and Displaced Persons in RDCongo

[6] Both protocols are an integral part of the ICGLR Pact; DRC has ratified the Kampala Convention the

[7] One is relative protection and assistance to internally displaced personsTheother to property rights of returnees


[9] Ordinance No. 22/003 of 7 January 2022 setting the attributions of the ministries

[10] Article 202, 36, n.

About the Author

The author is a PhD student at the University of Antwerp/Belgium and a Lecturer-Researcher at the Catholic University of Graben de Butembo, in the DRC.

This blog forms part of research of the Global Engagement on Internal Displacement in Africa (GENIDA) (EP/T003227/1) projects supported by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)

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