Recurrent conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR) in the last couple of months have put additional pressure on UNHCR’s emergency operations in the region.
The Danish Government’s recent contribution of USD 3 million will aid significantly in maintaining UNHCR’s present operations. USD 1 million has been allocated to the South Sudan crisis, USD 1 million is for UNHCR’s work with people being uprooted by the violence in DRC, and USD 1 million is allocated to CAR refugees who have fled to DRC. The donation, which is part of Denmark’s USD 8.8 million emergency support to UNHCR, comes at a most pressing time and UNHCR profoundly thanks the Danish Government. The donation adds up to Denmark contributing with USD 81.1 million to UNHCR this year, significantly increasing its support compared to 2012.
Increasing violence and political unrest in DRC, CAR and South Sudan have continued to force almost half a million people to flee their homes. Moreover, the rise in sexual and gender based violence towards women and children in particular DRC and CAR is alarming, enforcing the vulnerability of the displaced population. The volatile situation has increased UNHCR operations: refugee shelters and camps are under constant development and large resources are put in delivering live saving aid to people displaced by the violence. Denmark’s contribution will assist UNHCR in narrowing the funding gap particularly visible in DRC, which currently has only received 44 percent of the budgetary requirement.
“Denmark is an important donor and its emergency contribution comes at a critical time for UNHCR’s South Sudan, DRC and CAR operations which are in dire need of protection and basic necessities such as shelter; water; health care; sanitation; as well as registration and transport of refugees away from conflict areas. The donation will also help maintain UNHCR’s assistance to vulnerable groups such as children, which represent over 50 percent of the refugees,” says Pia Prytz Phiri, UNHCR Regional Representative for the Baltic and Nordic countries.
After fighting broke out between the Ugandan rebel group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and DRC army on 11 July in North Kivu in eastern DRC, some 66,000 Congolese refugees crossed into Uganda congesting the border transit areas. Massive efforts have been put in place to move people to other refugee settlements to receive further protection, shelter and assistance. In addition, fighting erupted between DRC government forces and the M23 rebel group, close to North Kivu’s capital Goma. A total of 967,000 people are displaced throughout North Kivu as a result of years of conflict.
Two years after gaining independence conflict remains in South Sudan. In March 2013 a new wave of fighting erupted in the Jonglei state between government troops and armed groups leading to massive human displacement in particular in Pibor County were most of the 148,000 inhabitants were affected. In addition, South Sudan hosts more than 221,000 refugees, of which about 200,000 refugees from Sudan.
In the Central African Republic, fighting between the national army and the rebel coalition Seleka resumed in March this year. The fighting and consequent insecurity led to widespread human rights violations marked by rape, torture, abduction, and looting. About 200 000 people were internally displaced and almost 50,000 sought refuge in neighbouring countries. UNHCR has registered about 42000 CAR refugees in DRC, more than half of them under the age of 18. More than 60,000 people have fled CAR since December 2012 and the total number of refugees from CAR in the region now stands at over 220,000. In addition, CAR hosts 20 000 refugees from neighbouring countries.
Denmark is one of UNHCR’s top ten donors. In 2012, Denmark ranked as UNHCR’s 10th largest donor with USD 58.1 million in contribution. UNHCR is almost entirely funded by voluntary contributions, mostly from governments.