UNHCR and partners need $65m for Congolese refugees

DR Congo. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

UNHCR and partners are seeking $65 million to help the growing number of refugees arriving in Angola from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the agency in a statement.

“UNHCR needs $35 million till end of the year to continue assisting refugees in remote parts of Angola, but sustaining life-saving assistance won’t be possible without more funding,” the statement issued on Monday said.

“Current humanitarian activities are supported with $10 million by the UN’s Central Emergency Fund.”

Spike in violence

Some 30,000 refugees have arrived in Angola’s Lunda Norte Province, fleeing violent attacks in Kasai since April, the statement further said.

DRC’s central region of Kasai has seen a spike in violence since September, leaving at least 400 dead in an uprising that erupted when government forces killed a tribal chief and militia leader Kamwina Nsapu.

Nsapu was leading a rebellion against President Joseph Kabila.

DR Congo President Joseph Kabila. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The refugees reception centre, the Luanda Norte Province, is located 656km north of the Angolan capital Luanda.

The province is rich in diamonds and shares borders with both DRC and Congo-Brazzaville.

The number of refugees could reach 50,000 according to the Angolan government and UN estimates, with 300-500 arriving daily.

Human rights violations

The arriving refugees express fear about returning to DRC unless the situation changes.

According to the UN agency, most civilians in the troubled DRC region were at risk of serious human rights violations, including physical mutilation, killing, sexual violence, arbitrary arrest and detention in inhumane conditions.

“Angola is providing a warm welcome, but the reception centres are full beyond their capacity and basic services cannot be maintained without immediate donor support,” the UNHCR statement explained.

“Traumatised refugees need urgent support to ensure provision of life-saving assistance and protection,” the statement quoted Mr Valentin Tapsoba, UNHCR’s Director for the Africa Bureau as saying.

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