UNHCR seeking additional $21.4 million for DRC refugees in Uganda

Briefing Notes, 20 September 2013

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 20 September 2013, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

In the Great Lakes region of Africa, UNHCR is urgently seeking an extra US$21.4 million for our underfunded operations in Uganda for refugees who have fled from the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The amount covers needs till the end of the year and has been largely revised to reflect the influx into Uganda's Bundibugyo district of tens and thousands of refugees from the Kamango area of DRC's North Kivu province since July.

Including this additional amount, UNHCR is seeking a total of US$ 43.7 million to help Congolese refugees who have arrived in Uganda to escape violence in North Kivu province since early 2012. At the moment this $43.7 million programme is only 28 per cent funded.

The recent influx from North Kivu to Bundibugyo began in July when a little-known Ugandan rebel group active in the DRC, the Allied Democratic Forces, attacked the town of Kamango and fought with Congolese government troops, triggering waves of displacement.

The situation is currently more or less stabilized, but about 100 people a day are still crossing the border into this mountainous, harsh but densely populated region.

Further south, near Goma, continuing clashes between armed groups and the Congolese army, backed by the UN intervention brigade, as well as fighting among the different militias and general lawlessness also continues to push people into Uganda.

To cope with the new displacement into Bundibugyo, UNHCR helped establish a transit centre at Bubukwanga. But this soon became over-congested, putting pressure on health, water and sanitation services, and endangering the welfare and safety of refugees in an area that is prone to disease such as cholera and the Ebola virus. For those who seek longer-term protection, we have since mid-August been arranging transfers to an existing refugee settlement at Kyangwali in Hoima district. To date, just under 11,000 refugees have relocated to Kyangwali, with another 10,000 in the transit centre and 20,000 along the border.

The new appeal covers operations for new arrivals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in mid-west Uganda (Bundibugyo) as well as in the country's south-west (Kisoro and Kanugana districts). A priority for the funds will be to continue to relocate refugees to Kyangwali we have been moving 1,000-1,200 people a week.

The funding is also needed to ensure assistance for refugees moving to the Kyangwali settlement, where they are allotted land for farming and shelter by the government. The funds are vital for provision of health, water, sanitation and education services as well as shelter materials and farming packs and household items. We would also like to build or rehabilitate health centres and schools in the settlement as well as improve roads and construct more boreholes to ensure the refugees receive more than the current 14 litres of water per person per day.

Our fresh request forms part of a revised UN inter-agency appeal of a total of US$92 million for the continuing arrivals from the DRC to mid-west and south-west Uganda. The UN country team in Uganda is working hard to provide food, non-food aid and basic services.

There are currently an estimated 2.6 million internally displaced people in the DRC, while more than 290,000 refugees have fled the country since the start of last year, In Uganda, more than 170,000 have been assisted in three districts.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Nairobi: Kitty McKinsey (Regional) on mobile +254 735 337 608
  • In Mbarara: Lucy Beck on mobile +256 772 710 137
  • In Kampala: Karen Ringuette on mobile +256 772 701115
  • In Geneva: Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba on mobile +41 79 249 34 83
  • In Geneva: Leo Dobbs on mobile: +41 79 883 6347

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DR Congo Crisis: Urgent Appeal

Intense fighting has forced more than 64,000 Congolese to flee the country in recent months.

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Human Misery in Katanga Province's Triangle of Death

People in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Katanga province have long referred to the region between the towns of Manono, Mitwaba and Pweto as the "triangle of death." Despite the presence of UN peace-keepers and government military successes in other parts of the country, the situation in the resources-rich Katanga has been getting worse over the past two years. Conflict between a secessionist militia group and the government and between the Luba (Bantu) and Twa (Pygmy) ethnic groups has left thousands dead and forcibly displaced more than 400,000 people since 2012, including over 70,000 in the last three months. UNHCR has expressed its "deep concern" about the "catastrophic" humanitarian situation in northern Katanga. The violence includes widescale looting and burning of entire villages and human rights' violations such as murder, mass rape and other sexual violence, and the forced military recruitment of children.

The limited presence of humanitarian and development organizations is a serious problem, leading to insufficient assistance to displaced people who struggle to have access to basic services. There are 28 sites hosting the displaced in northern Katanga and many more displaced people live in host communities. While UNHCR has built some 1,500 emergency shelters since January, more is needed, including access to health care, potable water, food and education. The following striking photographs by Brian Sokol for UNHCR show some of the despair and suffering.

Human Misery in Katanga Province's Triangle of Death

Statelessness Around the World

At least 10 million people in the world today are stateless. They are told that they don't belong anywhere. They are denied a nationality. And without one, they are denied their basic rights. From the moment they are born they are deprived of not only citizenship but, in many cases, even documentation of their birth. Many struggle throughout their lives with limited or no access to education, health care, employment, freedom of movement or sense of security. Many are unable to marry, while some people choose not to have children just to avoid passing on the stigma of statelessness. Even at the end of their lives, many stateless people are denied the dignity of a death certificate and proper burial.

The human impact of statelessness is tremendous. Generations and entire communities can be affected. But, with political will, statelessness is relatively easy to resolve. Thanks to government action, more than 4 million stateless people acquired a nationality between 2003 and 2013 or had their nationality confirmed. Between 2004 and 2014, twelve countries took steps to remove gender discrimination from their nationality laws - action that is vital to ensuring children are not left stateless if their fathers are stateless or unable to confer their nationality. Between 2011 and 2014, there were 42 accessions to the two statelessness conventions - indication of a growing consensus on the need to tackle statelessness. UNHCR's 10-year Campaign to End Statelessness seeks to give impetus to this. The campaign calls on states to take 10 actions that would bring a definitive end to this problem and the suffering it causes.

These images are available for use only to illustrate articles related to UNHCR statelessness campaign. They are not available for archiving, resale, redistribution, syndication or third party licensing, but only for one-time print/online usage. All images must be properly credited UNHCR/photographer's name

Statelessness Around the World

Edwige Deals With Loss by Keeping Busy and Aiding Others in Mole Camp

Edwige Kpomako is a woman in a hurry; but her energy also helps the refugee from Central African Republic (CAR) to cope with the tragedy that forced her to flee to northern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) last year. Before violence returned to her country in 2012, the 25-year-old was studying for a Masters in American literature in Bangui, and looking forward to the future. "I started my thesis on the works of Arthur Miller, but because of the situation in CAR . . . ," she said, her voice trailing off. Instead, she had to rush to the DRC with a younger brother, but her fiancée and 10-year old son were killed in the inter-communal violence in CAR.

After crossing the Oubangui River to the DRC, Edwige was transferred to Mole, a camp housing more than 13,000 refugees. In a bid to move on with her life and keep busy, she started to help others, assume a leadership role and take part in communal activities, including the Brazilian martial art of capoeira. She heads the women's committee, is engaged in efforts to combat sexual violence, and acts as a liaison officer at the health centre. She also teaches and runs a small business selling face creams. "I discovered that I'm not weak," said Edwige, who remains optimistic. She is sure that her country will come out of its nightmare and rebuild, and that she will one day become a human rights lawyer helping refugees.

American photojournalist Brian Sokol took these photos.

Edwige Deals With Loss by Keeping Busy and Aiding Others in Mole Camp

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