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Since December 1st 2017, 13 970 refugees have arrived from DRC’s Ituri and North Kivu provinces, bringing the total number of Congolese refugees in Uganda to over 242 000. The refugees report that they fled a new cycle of intercommunal violence which saw armed groups killing, looting and torching houses.
“Renewed fighting and atrocities in DRC are driving thousands of Congolese from their homes. After the long journey, many of them arrive in the refugee settlement weakened and destitute. EU funding is being released to increase the safe water supply and improve sanitation, hygiene and health services. It is crucial that we provide dignified living conditions and prevent disease outbreaks,” said Isabelle D’Haudt, Head of Office for EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid in Kampala.
The EU funding is part of the EU's overall contribution to IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) and will allow the Uganda Red Cross Society to assist 6 000 newly arrived Congolese refugees from Djugu in Ituri province. The majority of these refugees are reaching Uganda in rickety fishing boats across Lake Albert before being transferred to Kyangwali Refugee Settlement. However, many of the fleeing Congolese are unable to pay for the journey across the lake. An estimated 65% of the refugees are children.
For an initial period of 3 months, the Red Cross staff and volunteers will provide assistance in the fields of health, water, sanitation and hygiene. They will engage in health outreach, psycho-social support, epidemic prevention and control. There is a real risk of disease transmission, including of viral haemorrhagic fevers and preventable child diseases, and of new outbreaks. Cases of watery diarrhoea have already been reported. They will also start hygiene promotion activities, distribute jerry cans and chlorine tablets for water treatment, and build 60 new latrines, 100 bathing shelters and 200 handwashing stands.
Old and new conflicts in DRC have driven an estimated 4.4 million Congolese from their homes. The vast majority, 3.9 million people, are internally displaced in DRC. The remaining half a million are refugees in neighbouring countries. It is the world’s worst displacement crisis.
The European Union together with its Member States is the world's leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity towards people in need around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises. Through its humanitarian aid programmes the European Commission helps over 120 million victims of conflicts and disasters every year. For more information, please visit: http://ec.europa.eu/echo/
The Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) was established by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in 1985 to provide immediate financial support to Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies, enabling them to carry out their unique role as first responders after a disaster. The European Commission humanitarian aid department is a key donor to the DREF.
Anouk Delafortrie, EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid, Nairobi: + 254 722 791 604
Emmanuel Gyezaho, EU Delegation to Uganda: +256 312 701035, +256 756 719882