As Congo Disputes Scale of Crisis, Donors Give $530 Million

(Bloomberg) -- An international conference to raise funds for a humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo that was boycotted by its government yielded less than a third of the money needed to help millions of people.

The United Nations said the conference in Geneva drew about $530 million in pledges, below an estimated $1.7 billion needed to help more than 10 million people in the central African nation this year. $209 million had already been raised before the event on Friday, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The European Union, which co-hosted the conference, pledged $95 million in aid.

“We are disappointed that too few countries sent a real message of hope to the millions of Congolese children, women and men in desperate need of assistance,” Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said in an emailed statement. “The response is far from matching the spike in humanitarian needs in Congo.”

Recent conflict in Congo’s east and center has forced millions to flee, caused widespread hunger and stirred echoes of its 1998-2003 ruinous war. More than 5 million people have been driven from their homes -- about 4.5 million internally displaced and the rest to neighboring countries -- and 2.4 million more may be uprooted this year, according to the UN.

Congo’s government refused to participate in the conference, claiming the UN and humanitarian organizations have overstated the crisis and damaged the country’s international image.

Last year, only 56 percent of the UN’s $813 million humanitarian appeal for Congo was funded.

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