Burundi + 6 more

Democratic Republic of the Congo Regional Refugee Response Plan 2021

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1,544,629 PEOPLE IN NEED



IOM seeks to contribute to the efforts of governments and national inter-agency responses coordinated by UNHCR to ensure an overarching vision and coherent engagement for Congolese refugees by bridging the nexus between humanitarian interventions and assistance with a longer-term perspective. IOM's planned interventions will be multi-sectoral in nature, responding to the inter-agency analysis of needs and priorities of target beneficiaries and leveraging IOM's operational presence and technical expertise.


Regional: The humanitarian situation in the region remains highly complex, illustrated by various groups of internally displaced persons (IDPs) as well as Congolese refugees being hosted in neighbouring countries. Although most of the countries hosting Congolese refugees have maintained open borders for those seeking refuge and international protection, many refugees face restrictions on their freedom of movement, their right to work, regarding their housing, land and property rights, as well as their access to education, healthcare and justice. The existing refugee settlements and camps in many host countries are at capacity and available basic services are stretched to their limits. At the same time, there is a need to accommodate a growing Congolese refugee population and organize the relocation to safe places away from border areas and establish new settlements. There have also been increasing incidents of discrimination and xenophobia in some of the host countries. Given their situation of displacement, refugees are especially vulnerable, in particular women, children, and other persons with specific needs, or disabilities. There is also concern that increased needs in the Southern and Great Lakes regions in Africa and amid the current COVID-19 pandemic may have an adverse impact on the ability and willingness of countries to welcome refugees.

Angola has been a destination country for refugees and asylum seekers from different countries with almost 24,000 coming from DRC. In 2019 and 2020, more than 14,000 refugees opted to return to their home countries spontaneously while 2,925 refugees returned through an organized process. However, Angola continues to host a high number of refugees who are awaiting documentation and legalization while other groups, such as those from Kasai-region, who are based in Lovua settlement in Lunda Norte, await their return as soon conditions allow.

Burundi: Burundi, a small but densely populated country with a population of around eight million, shares its western border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It currently hosts over 80,000‌ registered urban and camp-based refugees from the DRC, verified by UNHCR’s. Biometric Information Management System. The number of refugees has steadily increased since 2004 due to recurring violent conflict in the DRC.

Rwanda: While refugees enjoy a generally favourable protection environment in Rwanda, poor conditions of refugees in camps and lack of livelihood opportunities has resulted in high dependency of refugees on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs. By the end of September 2020, only 60% of refugees had adequate shelter. Access to water remains below standards in the camps, livelihood opportunities are limited, and refugees have been heavily affected by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Uganda: Despite Uganda’s favourable protection environment, refugees are faced with numerous protection challenges due to the magnitude of displacement and growing vulnerabilities, compounded by diminishing resources and strained social services in districts where refugees are hosted. Among the most vulnerable populations are unaccompanied and separated children, women, adolescents, older persons at risk, persons with disabilities and serious medical conditions, and persons suffering from distress. The management of the international border during humanitarian crises requires concerted efforts, in light of the higher risks of further spread of diseases, and due to the number of unofficial and uncontrolled border crossing points. IOM engagement in reinforcing cross-border coordination, interagency collaborationand data management and sharing at the local, district and national level needs to be sustained and continued to ensure more efficient and targeted responses.

United Republic of Tanzania: The closure of refugee reception and transit centres across northwestern Tanzania has made access to territory more difficult. Administrative instructions restricting refugees’ movement inside and outside the camps have also severely limited refugees’ coping mechanisms, while at the same time the high rejection rate of refugee claims exposes many asylum-seekers to a variety of protection risks in the context of a possible influx of DRC refugees also in 2021.

Zambia: Zambia will be undertaking national elections in 2021 and as experienced elsewhere during national elections, the election season may be associated with xenophobic tendencies towards migrants and refugees. Any political instability may negatively shrink the operating and humanitarian environment thereby affecting the provision of services to refugees and migrants. Migrants and refugees may easily be targeted or misrepresented in terms of political persuasion and it is therefore important to ensure that they are not left behind, as the country goes through this phase. As more refugees arrive, more cases of large, single-headed households with children, elderly, and survivors of gender- based violence (GBV) are settling in the country, requiring more comprehensive social protection.