I. INTRODUCTION AND KEY TAKEAWAYS
This report provides an overview of the humanitarian situation in the Great Lakes region, focused on Burundi, Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and South Sudan and the cross-border implications of the humanitarian situation in each of these countries, including in Angola, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The report covers: drivers of humanitarian need, including conflict and economic shocks; manifestations of humanitarian need, including displacement, protection concerns, food insecurity and malnutrition, and communicable diseases; and constraints to meeting humanitarian needs, including access impediments and inadequate funding.
The report’s key takeaways are as follows:
Conflict is likely to remain the dominant driver of protracted humanitarian crises in the CAR, DRC and South Sudan, with increasing regional implications. The proliferation of non-state armed actors across conflictaffected countries in the Great Lakes region has led to a geographical expansion of conflict areas within each of these countries and concern regarding the spread of conflict and armed actors across state borders.
Some 10.7 million people were uprooted, by the end of September 2017 and this figure is expected to rise in the months ahead. This includes: 6.6 million IDPs across DRC, South Sudan, CAR and Burundi; 3.5 million refugees and asylum seekers from these countries seeking protection in the wider region, including 2.1 million hosted in the Great Lakes region; and a further 600,000 refugees and asylum seekers from other regions currently hosted in the Great Lakes. DRC hosts the largest population of IDPs in Africa (3.9 million), while also hosting nearly half a million refugees from other countries, and Uganda now hosts the largest number of refugees in Africa.
Significant protection concerns are expected to continue to be reported across the region, including targeted attacks against civilians and gender-based violence in CAR, DRC and South Sudan. The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator raised the alarm in August 2017 that renewed clashes in CAR may be early warning signs of genocide. Regarding Burundi, the UN Secretary-General has emphasized that while overt violence and armed confrontations have declined, serious human rights abuses continue to be reported.
There is a deepening food insecurity crisis in the region, largely driven by conflict. Some 17.8 million people were severely food insecure (IPC Phases 3 and above) at the end of September 2017 across DRC (7.7 million people), South Sudan (6 million), Burundi (2.6 million), CAR (1.1 million) and Uganda (400,000). The nutrition situation is also a concern, with over 800,000 children estimated to be severely malnourished. Although several countries may see seasonal improvements in the months ahead, the overall trajectory is of increasing food insecurity.
The region is battling simultaneous outbreaks of communicable diseases - including measles, cholera and a high malaria burden - which are expected to worsen during the respective rainy seasons. As at the end of September 2017, active transmission of measles was ongoing in DRC, Uganda and South Sudan, while there were cholera outbreaks in DRC, South Sudan and Tanzania, and cholera cases reported in Burundi. A malaria outbreak has been formally declared in Burundi, and malaria remains the leading cause of mortality in South Sudan. Some12.9 million people are in need of WASH assistance.
Direct attacks, widespread insecurity and bureaucratic impediments are hampering aid workers’ ability to reach those most in need. At least 25 aid workers were killed from January to August 2017 in the countries covered in this report, including six killed in a single incident in CAR in August 2017.
Despite rising needs, humanitarian responses are underfunded, with over US$2.8 billion of unmet humanitarian requirements across the region at the end of September 2017 and response to new crises (particularly the Kasai crisis in the DRC and the regional response plans for refugees from DRC and Burundi) attracting inadequate funding to scale-up the response.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.