The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the second largest country in Africa and is both a major source of displaced people while also hosting several refugees from neighboring countries. In 2018, the DRC hosted more than half a million refugees while also having 4.5 million internally displaced people (IDPs).
Here’s What You Need to Know:
The DRC hosts over 537,000 refugees from neighboring countries. This primarily includes individuals from Rwanda, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Burundi. Sixty-two percent of these refugees are children.
Although the DRC hosts more than half a million refugees, there are an additional 4.5 million internally displaced people due to conflicts within the country. Ever since the DRC won its independence in 1960, there has been ongoing fighting throughout the country. Despite the end of a civil war in 2003, violence continues to plague regions of the DRC and has forced millions to flee from their homes.
While millions have been forced to flee their homes but remain within the country, more than 850,000 individuals have fled seeking refuge in neighboring countries, such as Uganda, Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana and Malawi. Already in 2019, nearly 40,000 Congolese have fled the country, many finding refuge in Uganda.
In addition to widespread violence from armed groups, many displaced people are facing major health risks, including a recent outbreak of Ebola, which was recently declared an international public heath emergency by the World Health Organization. The eastern provinces of Ituri and North Kivu, which are most affected by the outbreak, are also the areas most affected by displacement and violence.
Although the outbreak has not reached any refugee settlements or IDP sites in the DRC, UNHCR is reinforcing preparedness measures to prevent and respond to any Ebola cases in the vicinity of the camps. Refugees and IDPs are at a heightened risk in this situation because displacement can limit access to medicine and clean water, making the spread of disease more common. Some of UNHCR’s primary efforts in the DRC include constructing emergency latrines, showers and garbage pits to aid sanitation efforts, as well as distributing medical resources, food and water.
The most vulnerable people during this crisis are women and children. Displacement increases a woman’s risk to sexual and gender-based violence. For children, many lose access to education. While UNHCR works to integrate all displaced children within the DRC into a national education system, many of the schools still lack to resources necessary to effectively support the staff and students.
Millions in the DRC need your help…
UNHCR is on the ground providing lifesaving humanitarian support to millions of IDPs and refugees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, they need your help. Becoming a monthly donor is the most efficient and effective way to help those fleeing conflict. Make a difference in the lives of refugees by becoming USA for UNHCR’s newest monthly donor.