The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has said it is preoccupied by the urgent and important needs of over 72,000 persons who have been displaced in the past few days due to fighting in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Intense fighting has been going on in Rutshuru and Nyiragongo territories between the DR Congo national army, FARDC, and rebels of the M23 movement, especially to the north of Goma.
“At least 170,000 civilians have been displaced, with some doing so several times, due to the intensification of combat in the east of the DR Congo since Nov. 2021,” the UNHCR revealed in a statement on Friday, May 27.
“This last wave of violence has forced tens of thousands of persons to leave their homes in search of security in different parts of the province, including Goma. Within the last week alone, 7,000 persons have also crossed the border with neighbouring Uganda, a country also hosting 1.5 million refugees.”
Displaced persons are exposed to constant violence while the farms and businesses they left behind risk being looted, putting in peril, their means of survival, according to the UNHCR, which also noted that young girls are exposed to sexual violence especially rape as well as physical threat and extortion by the belligerent parties.
“Thousands of persons displaced by the ongoing clashes are finding it difficult to have shelter and to acquire basic necessities as well as find refuge in the schools, churches and sites prepared by the authorities for those who fled from the Nyiragongo volcanic eruption in May 2021.
“A number of these temporary feeding sites do not have the necessary infrastructures to house the new arrivals thus exposing them to cholera, malaria and other illnesses. In addition, the use of school buildings deprives the children from attending school whereas they could otherwise have been studying in a protected environment.”
With 5.6 million internally displaced persons, the DR Congo is experiencing the most serious crisis of internally displaced persons in Africa.
The UNHCR said it is in partnership with other humanitarian actors in Uganda with a view to providing urgent aid to 25,000 persons who have crossed the border since March 28, 2022 in search of refuge in installations put in place by the United Nations.
The UN agency disclosed it urgently requires 5 million US dollars to reinforce its protection activities and humanitarian response in North Kivu.
“Our financial needs in the DR Congo remain very big, with only 16% of the 225 million dollars necessary that has been met.”
In Uganda, the UNHCR and its partners have recently launched an appeal for 47.8 million US dollars to respond to the critical needs of thousands of refugees who have arrived in the country this year, with about 35 million US dollars for the new arrivals froe DR Congo alone.
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