Panafrican News Agency

HCR expresses fear for situation of refugees, internally displaced in DRC

Kinshasa, DR Congo (PANA) - The UN High Commission for Refugees (HCR) Wednesday expressed fears for refugees and internally displaced in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

A report issued here by the United Nations said that, apart from deplorable living conditions, the refugees were faced with continued violence and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“A serious shortage of funds endangers the life of hundreds of thousands of people in DRC, as the unstopped violence and the COVID-19 pandemic deteriorate the already deplorable living conditions of more than five million people,” said HCR.

It added that, “without urgent release of funds, the under-financing will have devastating effect on essential humanitarian programmes”. 

The activities to help and protect refugees and internally displaced are financed with only 20 percent of the total amount of 168 million dollars.

“That shortage of funds seriously compromises efforts to take assistance within the framework of the multiple humanitarian emergency situations, leaving several vulnerable families without food, water, shelters, health and hygiene installations in a context of fast spread of coronavirus across the country,” the report said. 

It said the internally displaced in DRC by repeated cycles of conflicts were the most important situation of internal displacement in Africa, “which represents at the global level a share of 10% of the overall number of displaced inside the country”.

“These past few months, hundreds of thousands were displaced in the east and north of DRC following the brutal attacks by different armed groups, intercommunal violence and natural disasters.”  

The country hosts also more than half a million refugees, mainly originally from Rwanda, Burundi, and Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan.

The HCR said that although the global humanitarian situation remained alarming, it was forced to make difficult choices that deprived people in distress of vital aid which they strongly needed.

Rwandan refugees, who were living in communities displaced today by successive waves of violence in north and south Kivu, are among the affected populations.

The lack of funds also compromised the efforts made to find lasting solutions to the problems facing the refugees, for whom the Congolese government facilitated the permission for long residence and local integration. 

“At the refugee camp of Mole, in the region of South-Ubangi, extra resources are needed so that 15,000 CAR refugees have access to the minimum necessary volume of 20 liters per person and per day. It is today decisive since in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, the refugees and their host communities need potable water to protect themselves against endemic cholera and what is now the longest measles epidemic of the world”.  

The current financing also limits the activities of HCR to back the 120,000 CAR refugees living outside the camps, and who represent about 70 percent of CAR refugees in DRC.

The lack of education for 6,000 South-Sudanese refugees of school-going age increases, with 92 percent of them not yet in school.

The HCR has launched a limited registration programme for refugees in secondary school and needs extra funds to help build and renovate school infrastructure that accommodates schoolchildren from both local and refugee communities.

More than 47,000 Burundian refugees do not have access to basic health services in South-Kivu.

This will also have an impact on the autonomy of refugees since they are waiting for support for their agricultural activities in a bid to reduce their dependence on food rations provided by the World Food Programme (WFP). 

The continued lack of financing also affects the HCR programmes in terms of accommodation and efforts to decongest accommodation sites and zones for the displaced.

The COVID-19 epidemic aggravates the risks displaced families are facing due to their inability to return home because of the continued violence and who live in overpopulated displacement sites or among poor host families.

Their situation does not allow them to comply with the measures of social distancing, as access to water, sanitation systems and health installations is also limited.


-0-    PANA    KON/TBM/MSA/RA   10Jun2020