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

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students 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.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid