UN seeking critical funding for tens of thousands of Congo refugee

Briefing Notes, 9 March 2010

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 9 March 2010, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR will today be appealing for some $20 million in funding to help it meet the needs of tens of thousands of refugees in Republic of Congo (RoC) who have recently fled ethnic conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo's Equateur Province.

UNHCR's request is part of a broader appeal by UN agencies, who have so far received only $17.3 million of the nearly $59 million required this year for this crisis. We hope that donors will respond generously.

Our concern is that four months into their exile, the refugees are still lacking basic humanitarian aid, despite our efforts. So far we've been able to cover just 30 per cent of the needs of this huge population for food, sanitation, shelter, healthcare and primary education.

The 110,000 refugees are in northern RoC's Likouala province. The vast majority, 82 percent are women and children. They are dispersed in 100 sites in an area extending 600 km along the Oubangui River, further compounding the difficulties for humanitarian agencies in reaching them. Low river levels are preventing movement of heavy cargoes by boat and requiring us to ferry supplies in limited quantities or to fly them in.

These funds are needed to increase our overall protection and logistical capacity for the operation. The funds will also be used to provide primary education for more than 20,000 refugee children, to supply more shelter, to procure additional relief items, to improve access to health and to expand sanitation. The provision of clean water is also urgently required to curb water related diseases common among the population who resort to drinking from the river.

UN partners in this appeal include the World Food program, UNICEF, the World Health organization, UNESCO, the UN Development Programme, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization and the UNFPA.

The refugees fled from Equateur province after fighting started in late October last year when Enyele militiamen launched deadly assaults on ethnic Munzayas over fishing and farming rights in the Dongo area. The tensions have since expanded to most parts of Equateur province, which drove an additional 18,000 refugees to flee to the Central African Republic.

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UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

As a massive food distribution gets underway in six UNHCR-run camps for tens of thousands of internally displaced Congolese in North Kivu, the UN refugee agency continues to hand out desperately needed shelter and household items.

A four-truck UNHCR convoy carrying 33 tonnes of various aid items, including plastic sheeting, blankets, kitchen sets and jerry cans crossed Wednesday from Rwanda into Goma, the capital of the conflict-hit province in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The aid, from regional emergency stockpiles in Tanzania, was scheduled for immediate distribution. The supplies arrived in Goma as the World Food Programme (WFP), with assistance from UNHCR, began distributing food to some 135,000 displaced people in the six camps run by the refugee agency near Goma.

More than 250,000 people have been displaced since the fighting resumed in August in North Kivu. Estimates are that there are now more than 1.3 million displaced people in this province alone.

Posted on 6 November 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

Since 2006, renewed conflict and general insecurity in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo's North Kivu province has forced some 400,000 people to flee their homes – the country's worst displacement crisis since the formal end of the civil war in 2003. In total, there are now some 800,000 people displaced in the province, including those uprooted by previous conflicts.

Hope for the future was raised in January 2008 when the DRC government and rival armed factions signed a peace accord. But the situation remains tense in North Kivu and tens of thousands of people still need help. UNHCR has opened sites for internally displaced people (IDPs) and distributed assistance such as blankets, plastic sheets, soap, jerry cans, firewood and other items to the four camps in the region. Relief items have also been delivered to some of the makeshift sites that have sprung up.

UNHCR staff have been engaged in protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs and other populations at risk across North Kivu.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Posted on 28 May 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run

Fighting rages on in various parts of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with seemingly no end in sight for hundreds of thousands of Congolese forced to flee violence and instability over the past two years. The ebb and flow of conflict has left many people constantly on the move, while many families have been separated. At least 1 million people are displaced in North Kivu, the hardest hit province. After years of conflict, more than 1,000 people still die every day - mostly of hunger and treatable diseases. In some areas, two out of three women have been raped. Abductions persist and children are forcefully recruited to fight. Outbreaks of cholera and other diseases have increased as the situation deteriorates and humanitarian agencies struggle to respond to the needs of the displaced.

When the displacement crisis worsened in North Kivu in 2007, the UN refugee agency sent emergency teams to the area and set up operations in several camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). Assistance efforts have also included registering displaced people and distributing non-food aid. UNHCR carries out protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs in North and South Kivu.

Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run

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