Uganda Red Cross supports refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo
Effects of inter-communal violence between Lendu and Hema ethnic groups that broke out in Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and attacks by Mai-Mai militia in North Kivu started in December 2017, resulted into mass displacement and population movement of people from the DRC to Uganda. Uganda has since opened boarders and started receiving refugees through the lake Albert in Sebagoro (Hoima district), South Western border points in Ishasa & Butogota (Kanungu district), Nteko & Bunagana (Kisoro district) and lately Kanara (Ntoroko district) as well as the West Nile region unofficial border points through Zombo district.
Since December 18th 2017, Uganda has received 29,292 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (UNHCR Updates, February 9th, 2018). Of late, Uganda receives about 5,260 refugees per day which has proved an overwhelming influx to contain at such a time. This crisis has severely stretched the capacity of Uganda’s refugee centers and constrained the country in terms of providing social services, food, health, education, water and sanitation services among others to the refugees considering that already Uganda has been receiving refugees from South Sudan.
Uganda Red Cross through its mandate joined the UNHCR and Government of Uganda to support the refugee influx especially to the most vulnerable.
“We work closely with government local structures to receive and register refugees at some entry points, (conducting first level registration, crowd control) we are implementing Sanitation, Hygiene and Health promotion activities in the camps, Psychosocial support and Community Engagement and Accountability initiatives through the IFRC Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF). We also provide tracing services to restore broken family links and give chance for separated family members to reunite and live together happily.” Robert Kwesiga, Uganda Red Cross Secretary General.
Uganda Red Cross does quite a number of other activities in these camps and these include:
- Uganda Red Cross supports refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo
- Distribution of water purification tablets to enable refugees drink safe water for their good health
- Distribution of Nonfood relief items like bars of laundry soaps to the neediest homes
- Construction of 15 communal latrines and excavation of 45 pits out of 60 targeted (3 Marembo C and 57 Mombasa)
- Disinfection of 18 blocks of 6 stances of communal latrines constructed by Action Africa Help (AAH) in Marembo C;
- Installation of 50 handwashing facilities with a 60 litres capacity for communal latrines within the settlement and at public places such as the Reception centers and food distribution points
- Identification and mobilization of focal persons (Volunteers) as care takers of installed handwashing facilities;
- Provision of 0.05% chlorine solution for all 50 handwashing facilities to prevent and control infections
- Cleaning of communal latrines using chlorine and Effective Micro Organism (EMO) provided by UNICEF
- Social mobilization for proper hygiene and sanitation practices at individual and community levels. This is done through ensuring that families have utensils’ drying racks, household rubbish pits, bath shelters among others.
- Mobilization of households to put up latrines
- Provision of basic emotional support to refugees that require such services
Currently, as numbers continue to grow, Uganda Red Cross Volunteers are deployed to continue supporting the response. There is a team of committed and well trained Volunteers that work tirelessly to give hope and restore dignity of the refugees.
“We have worked under emergencies for a very long time. This is a strength we have and have continued to build the capacity of our staff and volunteers to handle unique cases where nobody else can. Talk of meeting the sphere standards, Uganda Red Cross exceeds the limit. In this response, we can handle all Water sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) components at individual and community level, reception management, NFI distribution, Restoration of Family Links (Protection), Shelter construction, Psychosocial support among other immediate support that refugees require.” Kwesiga added.
As the refugees come from Democratic Republic of Congo, some mix with the locals and get absorbed especially those with contacts in communities, whereas majority are hosted in the settlements.
According to the UNHCR, women are children comprise of 75% of the total arrivals. Uganda now projects to receive about 60,000 refugees from the DRC this year (2018). Any support to humanitarian actors goes a long way in making a difference in the lives of the refugees being received.