This is a summary of what was said by Olga Sarrado Mur – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
With the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continuing to experience one of Africa’s most complex and long-standing humanitarian crises, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and 69 aid organizations today launched a Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRRP) to provide urgent humanitarian assistance and protection to refugees from the country in 2023.
The plan seeks US$605 million to support Congolese refugees who have found safety in neighbouring countries across the Southern and Great Lakes regions. It also aims to provide support to their local host communities.
More than one million Congolese refugees and asylum-seekers are hosted across the African continent, the majority in Uganda (479,400), Burundi (87,500), United Republic of Tanzania (80,000), Rwanda (72,200), Zambia (52,100), the Republic of the Congo (28,600) and Angola (23,200).
Uganda remains the largest host country of refugees from the DRC on the African continent. In 2022 alone, attacks by armed groups in eastern DRC led to the exile of some 98,000 refugees to Uganda, where a total of almost half a million Congolese refugees are now hosted.
Settlements and camps have reached or exceeded capacity in many refugee host countries, and available basic services such as healthcare, water and sanitation are either stretched to their limits or too costly. Food insecurity is a growing concern as people struggle to afford necessities due to rising prices linked to the impacts of the conflict in Ukraine.
UNHCR and partners are calling on the international community to ensure continued support for these generous host countries, so vulnerable refugee populations can be provided with protection, shelter, food, health, education, and other basic services. In addition to emergency assistance, the 2023 RRRP seeks to promote economic self-reliance and resilience for refugees and vulnerable host communities. It will focus on youth- and women-led initiatives to reduce dependence on assistance.
A fragile socioeconomic and political context – exacerbated by the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic – combined with continuous insecurity due to recurring attacks by non-state armed groups, intercommunal violence, and serious human rights violations are limiting opportunities for displaced people to return to their homes and former livelihoods. These drivers are expected to cause continued flows of refugees into neighbouring countries in 2023.
Inside the DRC, more than 5.8 million women, men, girls and boys are internally displaced by conflict. In the eastern provinces, where more than 132 non-state armed groups operate, the majority of the displaced are hosted in warehouses, schools, churches or within host communities. Since March 2022, at least 521,000 people have been forced to flee in North Kivu Province alone.
Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees