Countries of asylum hosting refugees from the DRC have been generous in maintaining an open-door policy and in securing asylum to old and new population groups. Protracted displacement, however, continues to deplete already limited national and local resources. Existing camps and sites in asylum countries are overcrowded. Some 60,000 Congolese refugees have specific needs and problems, a significant proportion are children who are at risk or who require additional support.
The situation is compounded by broader humanitarian and development challenges in a region where half the population lives below the poverty line. Literacy rates are below 50 per cent and almost all countries score low on the human development index. With significant consequences for the vulnerable populations, including refugees, the displaced and host communities, most of the asylum countries in the region are expected to still be Least Developed Countries by 2030.
To assist host Governments to cope with, and respond to this complex situation, the 2019-2020 Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRRP) for the DRC situation serves as a regional platform for outlining the measures for coordinated actions and reinforcing the humanitarian - development nexus, in line with the Global Compact on Refugees and its Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) approach. This is complemented by alignment with the UN Great Lakes Regional Strategic Framework which seeks to promote peacebuilding in the region.
Within this broad framework, UNHCR and UNDP aim at deepening collaboration through joint programming initiatives, to address humanitarian and development challenges that affect the resilience and integration of refugees in countries of asylum. Building on each agency’s comparative advantages, the collaboration produced a complementary combination of humanitarian and development interventions that empower refugees, as well as provide support to host communities and Governments, to better cope with providing asylum to refugees, strengthening their resilience and harnessing their capacities towards achieving sustainable development.
While the collaboration between UNHCR and UNDP cannot address all needs, the actual and potential outcomes of joint programming are wide-ranging and this approach can certainly play a catalytic role for other organizations and UN agencies to step in. This booklet is the result of several months of collaboration between UNHCR and UNDP in seven countries (the DRC and six neighboring countries hosting DRC refugees), and it represents a work plan for the next two years. It includes an overview of jointly developed concept notes which are part of the 2019-2020 RRRP for the DRC situation and will be further expanded with projects in the countries hosting Congolese refugees and the DRC.
Strengthened governance, increased protection through rule of law and access to justice programming; peace building and conflict transformation; the creation of employment opportunities by investing in sustainable livelihoods; environmental protection through the identification and use of alternative sources of energy fuel; the repair and construction of infrastructure and improved access to new technology and communication are key objectives included in the joint concepts.
Prioritized activities support the objectives stated in the 2016 New York declarations for Refugees and Migrants and, also, ensure appropriate linkages with the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF). The areas of focus vary from country to country based on specific and contextualized needs, with continuing attention given to those countries where the CRRF is not being rolled out, so that a strong protection and solutions framework is developed and initiated.
What all the joint programming initiatives have in common is the delivery of better and improved assistance to all persons of concern to UNHCR, including refugees, returnees, IDPs and other vulnerable persons in displacement and potentially stateless persons, as well as to host populations.
With this collaboration, UNHCR and UNDP will be identifying other potential partners, including national and bilateral actors, international and multilateral humanitarian, development and peacebuilding organizations. Private sector engagement will also be critical to ensuring sustainable solutions. It is expected that good practices developed through these joined-up initiatives can help shape a model of humanitariandevelopment-peace interventions to deliver predictable refugee and host community responses in the immediate, medium and longer term.