ACAPS Briefing Note: Uganda - DRC Refugee Influx (10 January 2018)
On 18 December 2017 violence escalated in Ituri and Nord Kivu provinces of north-east Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), causing displacement and an increased refugee influx into Uganda. At least 7,185 refugees have crossed into west and southwest Uganda. Refugees are being relocated to Kyangwali settlement and the Malembo C site in Hoima district, and Kyaka II settlement in Kyegegwa district. Cross-sectoral response must be strengthened as humanitarian resources and capacities are strained due to the increase in arrivals.
Anticipated scope and scale
Further refugee arrivals are expected as people are currently waiting to cross Lake Albert and trend of crossings over land in southwest Uganda will likely increase. Violence in DRC is likely to continue and lead to further displacement. Cross-sectoral assistance will be needed for all further arrivals at the transit points and at the refugee settlements. There is a risk of arrival points congesting due to high numbers of arrivals.
WASH not meeting emergency standards
Health current facilities overstretched
+7,185 refugees + more waiting to cross
Since 18 December 2017, refugee arrivals from DRC into Uganda have been increasing.
Refugees from Ituri and Nord Kivu provinces, northeast DRC, crossed with fishing boats over Lake Albert into Uganda, where they arrived at Sebagoro and Nsonga in Hoima district, west Uganda (UNHCR 29/12/2017). From 18 December to 8 January, over 4,300 refugees took this route to Uganda and all have been relocated by UNHCR to the Kagoma reception centre at Kyangwali refugee settlement (UNHCR 09/01/2018). Before relocation, refugees are registered (Monitor 28/12/2017).
Refugees are also crossing from North Kivu province, DRC, at the land border points in Kisoro, Kanungu, and Bundibugyo districts in southwest Uganda (UNHCR 05/01/2018). 2,789 registered refugees crossed this way between 18 December and 8 January (UNHCR 09/01/2018). Refugees are being relocated away from Nyakabande transit centre in Kisoro district: 2,159 have been relocated to Kyaka II settlement in Kyegegwa district (UNHCR 09/01/2018). 47 people were relocated to Rwamwaja settlement in Kamwege district (UNHCR 29/12/2017). Rwamwaja, which hosts over 77,600 refugees, is at full capacity (UNHCR 22/12/2017; UNHCR 01/12/2017). Around 2,119 refugees remain at Nyakabande (UNHCR 09/01/2018).
Since the recent influx to Uganda began, arrivals to southwest Uganda have been increasing, with 329 people arriving on average per day between 31 December and 4 January, while arrivals across Lake Albert have been decreasing (UNHCR 09/01/2018).
An unknown number of refugees also arrived at reception centres without being registered (UNHCR 22/12/2017).
This recent refugee influx is a result of rising insecurity. Since 18 December, there have been increased inter-communal clashes between Hema and Lendu in Djugu territory in Ituri region (Radio Okapi 20/12/2017). Attackers burned down houses in over 20 villages, and attacked locals with firearms and machetes (UNHCR 27/12/2017; UNHCR 22/12/2017). Fighting also increased between Mayi-Mayi militia and DRC government troops and Mayi-Mayi violence against civilians in North Kivu also intensified (UNHCR 05/01/2018).
WASH: Water and sanitation needs have been reported in Kyangwali settlement, Hoima district. As of 27 December, the daily supply of drinking water per person at Kagoma reception centre was 10 litres per day, which is below the SPHERE standard of 15 litres per person per day (UNHCR 27/12/2017). UNHCR reported on 2 January that refugees in Malembo C site near Kyangwali received almost 15 litres/person/day, but that an additional 20,000 litres was needed to meet the SPHERE minimum standard (UNHCR 02/01/2018; UNHCR 09/01/2018).
As of 2 January, 10 communal latrines had been constructed. An additional 175 latrines, 200 bathing facilities, and 200 hand-washing stands are needed (UNHCR 02/01/2018). The construction of 125 communal latrines is ongoing (UNHCR 05/01/2018).
Health: Many refugees arriving in Uganda are in need of health assistance. As of 27 December, over 155 new arrivals at Lake Albert received health and nutrition consultations. Cases of malaria were most commonly reported amongst those assessed (UNHCR 27/12/2017). The Malembo C Health Centre II at Kyangwali is stretched beyond capacity (UNHCR 05/01/2018).
Both DRC and Uganda are affected by cholera. In DRC Nord Kivu is one of the most affected provinces with over 14,000 suspected cases and at least 124 deaths in 2017 (Actualite 23/12/2017). In Uganda, an outbreak has been affecting Kasese district, with a low number of cases also being registered in Kisoro (WHO 05/01/2018). Cross-border population movements risk further spread of the disease.
Protection: On the DRC side of Lake Albert, refugee families are being separated (UNHCR 27/12/2017). Armed groups are reportedly forcibly recruiting young men (UNHCR 27/12/2017).
An unknown number of people wanting to cross into Uganda are stuck in Ituri, who lack the financial means to pay for the journey. Armed groups in DRC are charging “exit fees” and the price to cross Lake Albert has reportedly increased to over 20,000 Ugandan Shillings per person (UNHCR 05/01/2018). Armed groups are reportedly trying to prevent people from fleeing into Uganda (UNHCR 29/12/2017).
Refugees crossing over Lake Albert face physical protection risks. They are crossing the lake in makeshift fishing boats (UNHCR 22/12/2017). There is a high risk of these boats sinking.
There are protection concerns for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), of which at least six have been identified so far (UNHCR 27/12/2017).
Shelter and NFIs: Significant destruction of shelter was reported in regions of origin in DRC (Radio Okapi 20/12/2017). Shelter assistance for refugees would be needed if they return to DRC. In Uganda, refugees are in need of shelter upon arrival. Continued shelter assistance is needed in order to avoid overcrowding. Nyakabande transit point has reportedly been congested due to over 2,000 refugees staying at the centre (UNHCR 22/12/2017). The next relocations away from the transit point are scheduled for 11 January (UNHCR 09/01/2018).
Food security: Some of the DRC refugees arriving in Uganda potentially have been affected by food insecurity in their country of origin. Over 113,700 people, which is about 2.2% of the total population, are facing IPC Phase 4 (Emergency) in Irumu territory, Ituri, as of November (OCHA 08/11/2017)