Democratic Republic of the Congo: South Sudan Regional RRP 2019 Mid Year Report - January - June 2019
The Democratic Republic of Congo hosts over 102,000 South Sudanese refugees as of 30 June 2019, of which 63 per cent are children. South Sudanese refugee hosting areas are located in northeastern DRC (Aru territory, Ituri province; Faradje and Dungu territories in Haut-Uele province). While the largest influxes were observed in 2016 and 2017, recent clashes in South Sudan have resulted in more than 5,000 new arrivals since the end of January 2019.
UNHCR continues advocacy to end Africa’s largest displacement crisis. Despite progress on establishing a foundation for peace after the signature of a revitalized peace agreement by South Sudanese warring parties in September 2018, ongoing tensions keep prospects of lasting peace uncertain.
In 2019, 5,279 South Sudanese refugees have been registered and relocated to settlements in the DRC, including 4,108 to Biringi settlement. This represents a significant rise since 2018, in particular, the numbers of refugees willing to relocate from border areas to the settlements further inland. Some of these include South Sudanese refugees who had been living in Congolese villages on the South Sudanese border for many months, or even years. Their movement inland is related to appeals from local authorities and to security incidents; armed actors from South Sudan entered Faradje Territory (Haut-Uele province) on 25 April, resulting in armed clashes with FARDC, the DRC army.
The new influx has put a stress on the availability of shelter at Biringi and Meri settlements. Newly arrived refugees, mainly women and children, are living precariously in group shelters. Existing assistance and services needs have been exacerbated, resulting in: overcrowded schools (refugee and Congolese children study together); insufficient non-food items and dignity kits; under-resourced health services; insufficient latrines and water sources; heightened community tensions, and lack of livelihood opportunities for the majority of households.
Providing humanitarian assistance to all refugees remains a challenge due to increased insecurity in the region. Since May 2019, interethnic conflict flare-ups between Hema and Lundu communities resulted in massive internal displacement, mostly in Ituri province (in Djugu, Irumu and Mahagi territories), but also in parts of Haut-Uele province (Dungu and Watsa territories). Security concerns limited government and other RRP partner access to remote areas, namely to the north of Dungu territory. At the same time, the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission (MONUSCO) in the DRC is soon leaving Dungu territory, which may pose additional security challenges in the near future. In addition, the outbreak of Ebola continues in Eastern provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, although the outbreak is well contained far from the refugee hosting areas.
A new settlement in Bélé (Haut-Uele) is under development. Relocation to Bélé of South Sudanese refugees currently living either outside of settlements or in Kaka settlement and the overcrowded Meri settlement will start in the second half of 2019.
The South Sudan Refugee Response in the DRC is funded at 18 percent, limiting RRP partners’ ability to achieve assistance and service goals. This has slowed biometric registration (it will be completed by end 2019), and meant that some child protection, community protection, and SGBV prevention and response actions have needed to be stretched into 2020. It is hoped that the Bélé pilot on community oriented policing and local governance will address some of the protection gaps there.
RRP partners play a pivotal role advocating with local authorities to obtain access to arable land so refugees can build shelters and conduct agriculture activities. They also support the inclusion of refugees in the planning and service provision of host communities in all sectors, while promoting peaceful coexistence. Although it is also a protection priority, secondary schooling support remains limited. An Education for Peace project and 12 self-reliance projects were implemented; it is hoped that an agreement with WFP and the FAO to evaluate the potential for the expansion of their livelihoods programming will bring significant additional support in the second part of the year.