As of end of June 2018, there are over 93,000 South Sudanese refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), out of which 53% are women and girls, and 64% are children below the age of 18. South Sudanese refugees are currently located in the North East of the DRC (Ingbokolo in Aru territory, Ituri province; Aba in Faradje territory and Doruma in Dungu territory, Haut-Uélé province). Following the rise in the refugee population in 2016 and 2017, there was no significant increase in first six months of 2018 with only 3,948 new arrivals and no substantial decrease.
RRP partners and the Government had – and continue to have – very limited access to refugees in the north of the Dungu territory due to the volatile security situation and presence of armed groups, including the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
South Sudanese refugees are arriving to the DRC against the backdrop of a country which remains the most affected country in Africa by internal forced displacement: nearly 1.9 million people were newly displaced in the DRC in 2017 bringing the total internally displaced population to almost 4.4 million people. The situation is compounded by the fact refugee hosting areas are among the most economically underserved and marginalized of the country. Refugees live alongside host communities with extremely meager resources to share and who also cater for Congolese returnees from South Sudan, IDPs and other vulnerable populations. Hosting regions have experienced prolonged conflict and poverty, contributing to population displacement, chronic food insecurity and limited livelihood activities.
The dearth of public services including schools and hospital is also dire.
Negotiations with local and national authorities in mid-2018 have started for land to be allocated for a new site to the south-east, while the financial means for the operation remain key constraint. Once moved, the population will be served through the same programming as other residents in hosting areas.
The demarcation between the Ituri and Haut-Uélé provinces and South Sudan remains uncontrolled due to the insufficient presence of the Congolese police and armed forces, creating opportunities for armed groups to enter, putting populations, both refugees and the host community at great risk. Humanitarian access rests entirely on the ability and capacities of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC to prioritize protection of civilians in border areas hosting refugees.
As of 30 June 2018, the funding received in DRC for the South Sudan RRRP reached only 2%.
The lack of funds critically impacts the provision of the necessary life-saving assistance to both new arrivals and existing caseload: protection challenges for the South Sudanese people are immense while living conditions remain below humanitarian standards with basic needs and standards being unmet. The assistance strategy for the South Sudanese refugees is to make sure the refugees and asylum have access to international protection and life-saving assistance