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Republic of Congo: Population Movement DREF Operation No. MDRCG005 - Update No. 1

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The International Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) is a source of un-earmarked money created by the Federation in 1985 to ensure that immediate financial support is available for Red Cross and Red Crescent response to emergencies. The DREF is a vital part of the International Federation's disaster response system and increases the ability of national societies to respond to disasters.

Period covered by this update: 23 November to 18 December, 2009.

Summary: CHF 247,375 (USD 244,200 or EUR 163,857) was allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) on 23 November, 2009 to support the Congolese Red Cross (CRC) in delivering emergency relief assistance to some 10,000 beneficiaries, i.e. the most vulnerable among the over 24,000 initial refugee populations from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) following a conflict over a disputed fishing lake in the Province of Equateur in DRC. Since then, the refugees have reached the number of 84,000 people. They have been assisted by the Congolese authorities; the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR); the World Food Programme (WFP); the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement; Médecins Sans Frontrières (MSF); Médecins d'Afrique (MDA) and the Agence pour l'Assistance des Réfugiés Congolais (AAREC). The assistance provided has not been sufficient to meet all the basic needs of the displaced population (protection, health and care, food and nutrition, shelter, restoring family links, education, etc.) However, with this DREF allocation, the Red Cross volunteers have been able to conduct sensitization campaigns in displaced and host communities on water, sanitation and hygiene and distribute water purifying tablets in coordination with AAREC to prevent the outbreak of waterborne diseases such as Cholera. They also started helping the most vulnerable among the refugee households with shelter and latrines construction materials and advice.

Furthermore, the Red Cross volunteers are being trained for food and non food items distribution exercises together with WFP and UNHCR for shelter construction.

The response has been logistically complicated because the refugees "scattered along a 500 km stretch on the banks of the Ubangi river" (see UNHCR Briefing Note on Equateur: 15.12.09). An exhaustive refugees' registration is yet to be done by UNHCR. This is delayed partly on the Congolese Government pending status definition of the displaced persons.

The operation was initially planned to be implemented in three months, and completed by 20 February, 2010 but in line with the slow implementation rate (logistical obstacles) and increasing needs (increasing populations in needs) it is expected that the implementation period will be extended with the Federation most likely launching an emergency appeal to help meet the needs of more refugee households.

The major donors to the DREF are the Irish, Italian, Netherlands and Norwegian governments and ECHO.