Tanzania + 1 more

Tanzania: Influx of DRC Refugees Situation Report No. 1

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Given recent developments in the region and with new refugees again arriving on a daily basis from the DRC, it remains a strong possibility that the planned Lugufu 2 extension camp may be opened very soon. Work on the extension camp infrastructure therefore continues in line with ongoing efforts to update and improve overall contingency planning in the event of significant further arrivals of refugees. However, the budget for this operation is revised from CHF 1,740,000 to CHF 1,003,900 due to reduced maintenance and limited management costs. The programme is planned to operate until December 31, 1999, then be incorporated into the Appeal 2000 for Tanzania.
appeal no. 16/99; budget revision
period covered: August to October 1999

The context

From January until July 1999, an estimated 35,000 people fleeing the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) arrived in the Kigoma Region of Tanzania. The new arrivals were initially accommodated in Lugufu camp which had an official caseload at the time of 63,000 and is jointly managed by the Tanzania Red Cross National Society (TRCS) and the International Federation.

From May to July, with a steady influx of 500 to 1,500 refugees arriving per day and reason to believe that the influx was likely to continue, new arrivals were also transferred from reception centres to Nyaragusu camp in Kasulu District, but this camp soon reached its capacity and an alternative had to be found.

With the influx continuing and the refugee population in Lugufu surpassing 60,000 (despite agreement that the maximum sustainable population was 50,000), UNHCR (as lead agency) and the Tanzania Ministry of Home Affairs undertook two significant actions: first, because of indications of an escalated camp population in Lugufu as a result of double registered refugees, UNHCR and the Government decided to undertake a re-registration exercise in August and September. This re-registration established the current total population in Lugufu at approximately 44,000; second, negotiations were initiated for a new site to accommodate the influx. Several potential sites were identified by the government, however surveys by UNHCR and other aid agencies indicated that the sites were too remote and would require significant investment of time and cash to improve the basic infrastructure, (roads and bridges) or that they did not have adequate access to safe water.

UNHCR then proposed an expanse of land adjacent to the existing Lugufu camp, and the government agreed that 30,000 more refugees from the DRC could be accommodated at this location.

The TRCS and Federation came under enormous pressure to assume responsibility for setting up the proposed camp extension. The decision to accept the task was a very difficult one for the Red Cross since the ongoing commitments to operate the refugee camps in Tanzania were already considered difficult to sustain financially. The Red Cross accepted the new responsibility based on a number of factors: experience has shown that two camps adjacent to one another, managed by different organisations, can create difficulties; the agreement to assume responsibility for the new location was made to ensure a consistent and equal level of service to the refugees and to reduce the administrative burden of having to integrate services in two camps managed by different organisations; lastly, the refugees in Lugufu are familiar with and trust the Red Cross, a relationship that has taken time and much effort to establish.

In August, 1999, the Federation launched an appeal to provide assistance to the new caseload of refugees originating from the DRC and seeking asylum in Western Tanzania.

A DRC cease fire accord, negotiated over a lengthy period, was signed in Lusaka, Zambia at the end of July 1999. Following the agreement, the situation in the country stabilised temporarily, with the rebels solidifying their position in the area to the northeast of the Congo river and the Kivus, while the remainder of the country was controlled by the government.

By September the rebels had provided safe access to UN advance teams assigned to assess and determine the possibilities for the peace monitoring mission. However the DRC government did not provide similar access to the UN in areas under their control. In late October reports indicated that the rebel groups in the DRC were unilaterally declaring an end to the cease fire due to new attacks by Government troops on rebel held areas.

Latest events

From September to October the influx of new arrivals from the DRC unexpectedly slowed to a trickle. Reports from inside the DRC indicated that the cease-fire was holding in most areas and the local population were taking the opportunity to plant their crops. UNHCR also implemented tough new measures to monitor the camps, placing police and security personnel at entries to villages.

From the end of October into early November, small groups of new refugees started once again to arrive in Tanzania. The situation in the DRC remains unstable and unpredictable. While there are no definite indications that there will again be mass movements of people from the DRC to Western Tanzania, there is a strong possibility that more refugees will continue to seek shelter in the Lugufu camps.

Red Cross/Red Crescent action

Following the launch of the appeal in August and with the support of donors, the TRCS and Federation worked towards a realistic plan to accommodate new arrivals. Coordinating with UNHCR and other agencies, it was decided that although the original influx which had caused the emergency had slowed, contingency preparations for new arrivals should continue. While it was agreed that the entire camp structure was not immediately required, a basic camp infrastructure was started so that a fast response could be undertaken if significant numbers of new arrivals began again.

Camp Infrastructure

UNHCR assumed responsibility for laying out the basic design of the camp and road construction. The main access roads, as well as some subsidiary roads, have been completed, and access to the water holding tanks is being developed. TRCS camp management have carried out preliminary planning for plot size and allocation, and areas for communal structures such as schools, dispensaries and health posts have been determined.

Water and Sanitation

Following discussions with ECHO (the donor supporting this component), it was decided to initiate the construction of the planned water supply for Lugufu II. Therefore, TRCS and the Federation have identified a new, reliable water source from the Lugufu River for the camp and designed a distribution network which will draw water from the river to be pumped up a hill into holding tanks from which a gravity system will provide water to the camp distribution rings.

The water pipes and pumps have been purchased in Nairobi and are in the process of being transported to Lugufu. Oxfam holding tanks and tapstands for the water points are enroute to the camp, as are the chemicals required for water treatment. Cement and other materials and supplies which will be used in the construction of latrines and tapstands as well as for the construction of basic health care facilities is being procured and should be in the camp in the next few weeks. As soon as the basic construction material is received, the trench and pipeline construction will be completed.

Health

Pending a decision concerning the need for new structures, materials for health facilities in the camp have been pre-positioned (plastic sheeting poles, planks and cement). With these items available, basic structures can be erected quickly to cope with any influx. Health staff have also pre-positioned three months of drugs and health supplies which again will be stored in the camp, rotated accordingly and available to cope with an influx. Equipment including operating theatre equipment, and refrigerators for blood storage to serve the needs of beneficiaries from both camps has been ordered and is currently being used in Lugufu 1. A Federation surgeon is providing training to the TRCS and refugee health staff to improve their skills in general health and emergency surgery.

External relations - Government/UN/NGOs/Media

The TRCS and Federation have worked in close co-operation with UNHCR to design the layout of the new camp and to ensure that roads and water distribution system are installed. The TRCS and Federation have also maintained a close collaborative relationship with the Tanzanian Ministry of Home Affairs.

Contributions

The original appeal budget included costs for camp construction and camp management. As refugees are yet to be placed in the camp the budget has been revised accordingly, including reduced maintenance and camp management costs. The major part of the budget - the water supply programme - has been funded through a contract with ECHO. Noting that contributions now exceed the budget total and taking into account the budget reduction, in the coming days the Africa Department will contact donors to renegotiate existing pledges. See Annex 1 for further contributions details.

Conclusion

Despite some optimism that the DRC peace agreement which was signed in July 1999 would lead to the eventual repatriation of Congolese refugees from Lugufu, following recent internal events the security situation in the DRC and Burundi remains unstable and uncertain, and the potential for the repatriation of refugees from camps in western Tanzania will remain slim for the foreseeable future. Given the recent developments in the region and with new refugees again arriving on a daily basis from the DRC, it is a strong possibility that the Lugufu 2 extension camp will be opened very soon. Accordingly, work
on the Lugufu 2 camp infrastructure continues in line with ongoing contingency planning in the event of significantly higher arrivals of refugees from the DRC. The original appeal budget for the operation of the camp is therefore being reduced.

Bekele Geleta
Director
Africa Department

Peter Rees-Gildea
Director
Operations Funding and Reporting Department