During the COVID-19 pandemic, UNHCR DRC is producing a condensed monthly Operational Update. Specific information about UNHCR's response to COVID-19 in DRC can be found here.
Between 1 and 3 July, Uganda temporarily re-opened two border crossing points, at Guladjo and Mount Zeu in Zombo district, to provide a safe haven to thousands of refugees fleeing escalating violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). They were stranded in a remote, inaccessible area in Mahagi Territory since late May. The new arrivals were previously part of a larger group of approximately 45,000 people, as reported by local DRC authorities, who had fled after deadly militia attacks targeting civilians in Ituri Province on 17 and 18 May. While some had been able to return to their area of origin, thousands remained close to the border. UNHCR and partners, in coordination with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Ministry of Health and the district local government, have strengthen reception capacities at the border, including quarantine facilities, and to ensure adequate levels of emergency assistance are available.
As COVID-19 continues to spread across the DRC, UNHCR continues to raise awareness about the disease and prevention measures. In Bele and Meri settlements in Haut-Uele Province and in Biringi settlement, Ituri Province, UNHCR reinforced specific awareness-raising to almost 8,000 South Sudanese refugee children and parents, including messages on SGBV prevention.
Due to the closure of the borders to limit the spread of COVID-19, UNHCR had to put on hold all voluntary repatriation operations. In North and South Kivu Provinces, 119 Rwanda refugees are waiting to be voluntary repatriated to their country. In preparation of the eventual opening of the borders and resumption of the voluntary repatriation, UNHCR is working with the local authorities to facilitate COVID-19 testing which need to be taken before crossing borders.