UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi has called today for stepped up international support and solidarity with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) - a country struggling with one of the largest internally displaced populations in Africa and a generous host to half a million refugees fleeing conflict elsewhere in the region.
During a three-day mission to the Central African nation, the High Commissioner travelled to the DRC's northern region bordering the Central African Republic (CAR) where according to local authorities 92,000 refugees have arrived in the past four months, following post-election violence in CAR. Meeting with refugees in this remote area, Grandi heard accounts of brutal violence, and personal loss.
He also praised the crucial role played by Congolese communities on the border that have taken in those fleeing armed groups in CAR: "In this isolated area where poor road conditions make delivering humanitarian assistance a huge challenge, local villagers have provided life-saving assistance by sharing their modest shelters and limited food with the refugees".
Grandi added, "We need greater commitment and solidarity with this country and local communities that continue to open their arms and their homes to refugees, despite having very limited resources."
As the security situation remains volatile, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is working to relocate refugees away from the border, to safer sites.
Grandi commended local communities at the new sites who have offered land to the newly arrived refugees and welcomed children into their schools. "Refugees can grow their crops alongside the host community, become self-reliant, access local health services and schools. This is real inclusion."
The High Commissioner was received by President Felix Tshisekedi at his office with whom he discussed the forced displacement challenges facing the DRC -- the 5.2 million internally displaced people, refugees from the region hosted in the country and Congolese who have sought asylum abroad.
They agreed that protection of civilians in conflict-affected areas of the DRC, especially in the eastern provinces, had to be strengthened, and that development interventions had to be more strategically targeted. These issues were discussed also with the Prime Minister and other government ministers.
The High Commissioner will travel to Goma, in North Kivu province on Friday to meet people displaced by the ongoing violence in the north-east of the country.
The humanitarian response in the DRC has been impacted by severe underfunding. UNHCR's 2021 appeal of US$204.8 million is just 16 per cent funded.
News footage is available for media and broadcasters: B-ROLL
Photos are available here.
For more information on this topic, please contact:
In Kinshasa, DRC, Johannes Van Gemund, [email protected], +243 817 0009 484
In Kinshasa, DRC, Fabien Faivre, [email protected], +243 825 443 419
In DRC on mission, Helene Caux, [email protected], +27 82 376 5190
In Geneva, Babar Baloch, [email protected], +41 79 513 9549
In New York, Kathryn Mahoney, [email protected], +1 347 443 7646