News / Africa

Northern Republic of Congo Faces Refugee Crisis

Refugee children from the Democratic Republic of Congo attend class in a forest near the town of Gangania, more than 850 km north of Brazzaville, the capital of neighboring Congo. Most of the teachers are also refugees who fled inter-ethnic violence in th
Refugee children from the Democratic Republic of Congo attend class in a forest near the town of Gangania, more than 850 km north of Brazzaville, the capital of neighboring Congo. Most of the teachers are also refugees who fled inter-ethnic violence in th

Multimedia

Audio

A letup in fighting around the Democratic Republic of Congo’s northwestern Equateur province has let U.N. relief officials regain access to 35,000 destitute refugees. The displaced civilians are part of a wider group of 114,000 victims who have crossed the Oubangui River since October to escape ethnic clashes between Congolese militias in an expansive fishing and farming dispute that forced authorities to call in the army.

Rescuers had to fly supplies to the neighboring Republic of Congo (ROC), 700 kilometers north of its capital, Brazzaville, and transport the goods by barge along the river to more than 100 makeshift aid stations.  UNHCR communications officer Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba says the exodus has posed a logistically challenging rescue effort that planners estimate could cost about $59,000,000.

The Oubangui River forms the Republic of Congo's northeastern border with the DRC, eventually emptying into the Congo River as it winds its way down to the ROC capital, Brazzaville.
The Oubangui River forms the Republic of Congo's northeastern border with the DRC, eventually emptying into the Congo River as it winds its way down to the ROC capital, Brazzaville.

“We have received some funding, about $17,000,000, but we do need more to cater to the needs of all the refugees.  They are so widely dispersed that it is a very expensive logistical operation,” she pointed out.

For refugees camped out along the Oubangui between the Congo Republic’s regional capital of Impfondo and the town of Liranga, the past five weeks of renewed shooting and fighting between the army and ethnic militias prevented humanitarian workers from reaching uprooted civilians.

Deadly militia assaults on the DRC town of Mbandaka in early April also accelerated the arrival of victims in the Congo Republic, seeking food, shelter, water, education, and health care, which could not be delivered until the shooting stopped.

“Fortunately, we were able to reach the refugees after security restrictions were lifted for U.N. staff to travel on the southern axis of the Oubangui River, where the Congolese military operation was ongoing.  So, it was where the DR Congolese army operations tried to stop the militiamen, whose deadly assaults prompted all this huge refugee flow,” said Lejeune-Kaba.

She added that, with almost a doubling of its population in the past six months, the northern Republic of Congo is facing a crisis of enormous proportions, and the challenges of delivering aid to those in need differ widely from more conventional rescue efforts.

“Every single one of the refugee sites can only be reached by the river, so we have to hop from one site to another.  Some of them are very close by.  But, there are about 100 sites on 600 kilometers.  It’s like a site every six kilometers, and every one of our efforts is multiplied by the number of sites.  If we’re going to distribute food, it’s going to be distributed in 100 sites.  If you’re going to distribute, say, mosquito nets, you’re going to do it in 100 different locations,” she explained.

Northern Republic of Congo Faces Refugee Crisis
Northern Republic of Congo Faces Refugee Crisis

Although the displaced remain reluctant to return home so soon after an uneasy calm has settled on northwestern Equateur, the UNHCR spokeswoman says the agency will continue to fulfill its mission of standing by the victims as long as its international mandate permits the agency to assist the refugees, either by supplying emergency relief or by facilitating their return to their former homes.

“So far, we continue to engage with donors, and there are a lot of donor missions.  And, they seem to be showing support for our operations.  And, we just hope that will continue, especially when we enter the period of the year where navigating along the Oubangui River is a lot easier, which means we can reach a lot more people,” she explained.

By last week, UNHCR staff had succeeded in registering about 70,000 of the DRC population residing in neighboring Republic of Congo.  It’s estimated that an additional 30,000 Congolese are remaining inside Equateur province as internally uprooted civilians.  UNHCR is also planning to reinforce its presence in the DRC to care for their needs.

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid