DR Congo + 1 more

Uganda: Refugees from DR Congo Appeal No. 06/03

Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) Allocation: CHF 50,000

The Situation

Conflict and inter-ethnic clashes has escalated in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since December 2002 despite initiatives to map out a peace plan. The two groups, Hema and Lendu, represented by the Union Patriotic Congolese (UPC) and Front des Nationalities et des Intergratinationalities (FNI) respectively, were represented by their delegations to peace talks in Arua late December 2002. The deal, however, did not come through as the UPC refused to sign a cease fire agreement to end hostilities. This implies that tensions in Eastern Congo are still high causing scores of asylum seekers to continue fleeing into Uganda. The renewed fighting has resulted in the looting of household items and burning of houses, cattle theft and loss of lives. There have been claims of cannibalism by both the survivors and the press who say that the militants also eat the humans killed during the fighting. This has fuelled the fear among the affected population who have fled in large numbers across the border into Nebbi District in the North-eastern part of Uganda.

UNHCR and Government of Uganda are monitoring the situation. UNHCR maintains that only asylum seekers agreeing to move to designated refugee settlement in neighbouring Arua District will qualify for assistance. However, only 202 of the asylum seekers agreed to move to the designated refugee settlement in Arua following meetings held towards the end of 2002 held with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and the UNHCR.

In February 2003, Uganda Red Cross Society, the UNHCR field office and the local authorities representing OPM undertook an assessment mission to define the humanitarian needs of asylum seekers spontaneously settled in Nebbi District. There are both urban and rural asylum seekers in Nebbi District and the ethnic groups that constitute the populations are Alur, Kebu, Lendu, Hema, Bagegere and Anya. Mobilisation of the refugee population was done through local councils and by radio.

The table below some of the results from the assessment:

No. Households
No. of People
Grand Total

The grand total is likely to be more than this figure due to the following reasons:

  • A number of refugees were absent and may not have received information because of the short notice given.

  • Many did not want to be counted for fear of being taken to the designated refugee camps.

  • Not all the areas where refugees lived could be reached within the period of the assessment.

  • It was also not possible to mobilisation of all them due to the large area in which they live.

In view of the above reasons and the fact that 202 refugees had agreed and were taken to a refugee camp in Arua District, the estimated number of 15,000 refugees may turn out to be correct at the time of the assessment.

Majority of refugees did not want to go to refugee camps citing the following reasons:

  • The camps were too far from the border with DRC and the refugees wanted to be near so as to monitor the situation and occasionally reach their homes and collect food and other items.

  • Some refugees have been able to get land from the host community and have planted some crops, which were not yet ready for harvest (harvest due late February).

  • Others thought they could lose access to their livelihoods and lifestyle if moved to camps (work opportunities to be self sufficient, social life, monitoring situation back home etc.).

  • Majority of them preferred to be given service where they live as was the case with Ugandan refugees in Congo. It has been agreed with the local Ugandan authorities that if the Red Cross can provide services to refugees in the community setting, that this will be acceptable to the government.

The asylum seekers are now hosted by relatives in the local communities or in schools and other public buildings. Despite this acceptance by the host community, there has been a lot of extra strain on public facilities such as water and sanitation structures and health facilities. As a result, some of them especially water points like bore holes and protected springs have broken down leaving long queues of women and children waiting to draw safe water at the few that are still operational. Sanitation problems are also being experienced in some locations due to insufficient latrines. Although the existing health centers or/and health units are providing services, there is a shortage of drugs. The asylum seekers have no cash to buy medicine and this makes it even more difficult for health centers to replenish their supplies.

Food has until now been provided by the host local community supplemented by food from the asylum seekers whenever they are able to reach their gardens back at home. WFP is aware of the situation and is expected to assist the affected population should a need for food arise.

The overall objective of the operation is to provide emergency assistance to the affected population. Non-food items will be distributed to an estimated number of 15.000 beneficiaries and appropriate repair will be carried out to water and sanitation installations. As MSF Swiss has planned a medical intervention, assistance in the area of health is not included in the appeal.

The Needs

Immediate Needs

A needs assessment conducted jointly by Uganda Red Cross, UNHCR and local authorities identified the distribution of non-food items to 15.000 beneficiaries a period of 3 months. The items to be distributed are: tarpaulins, blankets, kitchen sets, Jerry cans and hoes.

Water and sanitation activities in form of repair of bore holes, protection of water sources and construction of latrines are also needed. Hygiene and sanitation educational services and delivery of health messages is also included in the short-term assistance.

The Proposed Operation

The Federation East Africa Regional Office (EARO) and the Regional Delegation in Nairobi supported Uganda Red Cross in the needs assessment and in production of a plan of action for a period of three months. The national society has the internal capacity to manage the operation with limited support from the EARO and the Regional Delegation due to its long-term experience in assisting refugees and internally displaced populations. The logistical support and staff and volunteers of Uganda Red Cross will be able to undertake the program implementation which will be closely co-ordinated with UNHCR, relevant authorities and Movement partners.

Support from DREF is requested as to start the operation immediately since no assistance has reached the affected population to date. A second assessment will be conducted jointly with the Government and UNHCR to review the situation and changing needs, etc. This preliminary appeal will updated if necessary, otherwise it will form the basis of a final operation report

Red Cross Objectives and related Activities

Objective 1. To provide basic Non Food items to 3000 families.

This objective will be achieved through the distribution of non food items (tarpaulins, blankets, kitchen sets, Jerry cans, hoes) to 3000 families (with a total population of 15,000 people).

The required non-food items are:

  • 3,000 Tarpaulins
  • 6,000 Blankets
  • 6,000 kitchen sets (spoons, plates, cups, knife, cooking pan, mugs)
  • 6,000 Jerry Cans
  • 3,000 Hoes

The distribution will be undertaken by staff from the Disaster Preparedness/Response (DP/R) department of Uganda Red Cross with assistance from branch staff and volunteers. Private trucks will be leased for the operation while Uganda Red Cross will provide four wheel drive vehicles from its motor pool for logistical purposes. Casual labour will be hired for the loading/ offloading and temporary office and warehouse facilities rented in Nebbi district.

Objective 2: To improve water supply and sanitation through repair of bore holes, protection of water wells, construction of temporary latrines and hygiene/sanitation education.

This objective will be achieved with the following activities related to water and sanitation.

  • Uganda Red Cross water engineer assigned to the South West Refugee Operation will carry out a rapid assessment and produce a plan of action to protect 12 water sources and repair 10 bore holes.

  • Installation of 300 communal latrines and other sanitary facilities required for the 15.000 asylum seekers at the site to complement the already existing latrine installations in the local communities.

  • Volunteers will provide health messages, posters and relevant health and sanitation training to the affected population.

Objective 3: Observation and early warning

  • Given the changing nature of the conflict situation in DR Congo, The DP/R department of Uganda Red Cross will monitor and observe the inflow of new case loads into the region, and with support from the Federation, will conduct a second assessment after two months from commencement of the operation, and produce a revised appeal in the situation warrants.

National Society Capacity

Uganda Red Cross has a well functioning DP/R department with long experiences from the South West Refugee Operation being implemented by the society since the hand over from the Federation in 2000. Uganda Red Cross is currently implementing and fund-raising for a national appeal for IDP in the Northern Uganda it launched in 2002. It is because of this reason that the national society has requested the Federation to launch this appeal on its behalf.

The role of Uganda Red Cross in disaster response is mainly realised through its volunteers in regional and local branches. The society has 45 branches and the society has an active branch in Nebbi district.

The branch has the following attributes and capacities:

  • 20 volunteers fully trained and 77 partially trained in disaster management and many more who may be called on short notice for training

  • A Red Cross Center with 1 office, 1 hall, 6 lodge rooms and a warehouse. Though presently rented out, another warehouse can be rented from Nebbi Town.

  • VHF Radio communication system.

  • Nebbi Town has MTN telephone connection.

  • There is reliable electricity supply in the town for 4 hours daily from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

  • Nebbi Town is a cross roads to Arua, Paidha and Pakwach towns and also has an airdrome.

  • Other towns in Nebbi District which can serve as alternative sites for provision of services are Goli, Paidha, Zeu, Alangi and Erussi. All are well connected by an all weather road network and storage facilities can be found in some of them.

The Uganda Red Cross will be the implementing body for the emergency response and will follow the normal reporting, monitoring and control procedures laid down in the regulations for Federation emergency response.

Uganda Red Cross will use this opportunity to further train volunteers in Nebbi branch and the area community in Community First Aid, assessment, monitoring, Disaster Management, etc. This will strengthen its capacity to carry out community health activities since the operation will allow better access to the community. Nebbi is a strategic branch which borders DRC, and considering the fragile and uncertain security situation in Eastern Congo, any effort to strengthen branch capacity will contribute to the Movement’s emergency preparedness.


Uganda Red Cross will take the lead implementation role. The national society will co-ordinate its relief assistance with the Government of Uganda, and with the Federation attend regular co-ordination meeting by the government with UNHCR and other inter-agencies. Plans have been shared and discussed with the ICRC office in Kampala and they are supportive of the URCS intervention in the region.

Capacity of the Federation Secretariat in East Africa

The Federation has currently a Head of East Africa Regional office (EARO) based in Kampala. The East Africa office together with the Regional Delegation in Nairobi has been assisting the national society in producing an Information Bulletin and the Appeal. The Head of the East Africa Regional office will assist the national society to co-ordinate the emergency response.

Budget summary

See Annex 1 for details.

For further details please contact: Martin Fisher, Federation Desk Officer, Phone: 41 22 730 4; Fax: 41 22 733 0395.

All International Federation Assistance Operations seek to adhere to the Code of Conduct and are committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (SPHERE Project) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

In line with the Minimum Reporting Standards, the first operations update on this appeal will be issued within 30-days of the launch and the second will be issued over the course of the operation; a final narrative and financial report will be issued no later than 90 days after the end of the operation.

This operation seeks to administer to the immediate requirements of the victims of this disaster. Subsequent operations to promote sustainable development or longer-term capacity building will require additional support and these programmes are outlined on the Federation website.

For support to or for further information concerning Federation operations in this or other countries, please access the Federation website at http://www.ifrc.org

Abbas Gullet
Disaster Management and Coordination

Didier J. Cherpitel
Secretary General


BUDGET SUMMARY - APPEAL No. 06/2003 - Uganda: Refugees from DRC
Clothing & textiles
Water and sanitation
Utensils & tools
Telecom. equipment
Programme support (6.5% of total)
Transport and storage
Vehicle costs
National staff
PR activities
Administrative & general expenses