UNHCR Regional update - Africa
Update of UNHCR’s operations in Africa
A. Situational context
The sub-Saharan Africa region remains host to the largest number of persons of concern to UNHCR. By the end of 2017, there were an estimated 24.2 million people of concern in the region, an increase of 4.6 million since 2016. This includes 6.3 million refugees and 14.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs). In the first half of 2018, the numbers increased, with some 170,000 new refugees and over two million new IDPs - mainly from the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan.
The complex humanitarian situation was compounded by other factors, including drought and food security, which brought some areas to the brink of famine. Due to global funding shortages, nine operations are currently affected by food ration cuts (Cameroon, Chad,
Djibouti, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Sudan, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia), where the affected population is estimated at some 2.4 million people. In addition, insecurity and lack of humanitarian access, have severely constrained the ability of UNHCR and its partners to respond to emergencies and to deliver protection and solutions to those in need.
While solutions remained limited (particularly local integration and resettlement opportunities), organized voluntary returns took place for smaller groups of refugees from Burundi, Chad, the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Rwanda, Somalia and Sudan.
Central Africa and the Great Lakes
The Democratic Republic of the Congo was severely affected by new waves of displacement in the east, including in Tanganyika and South Kivu provinces, while intercommunal conflict in the Kasai region resulted in internal displacement and movements across the border to Angola. This brought the total number of IDPs to over 4.5 million, while the number of refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the region increased by 16 per cent, from 537,000 to 620,800. These figures are expected to rise significantly due to political uncertainty linked to the presidential elections in December 2018, potentially generating further violence. The Democratic Republic of the Congo also continued to host nearly 542,000 refugees, mainly from Rwanda (219,000), the Central African Republic (182,000) and South Sudan (91,000).
The situation in the Central African Republic deteriorated due to widespread violence and clashes between rival armed groups, as well as an increase in reprisals targeting the civilian population. By the end of June, nearly 1.3 million people had fled their homes, including some 687,000 IDPs and over 568,000 refugees in neighbouring countries. This is the highest recorded level of displacement since the beginning of the conflict in 2013. The situation remains complex, with an unstable security environment, restricted access to many areas and limited resources to meet the needs.
The Burundi refugee crisis entered its fourth year, and refugees continued to arrive in neighbouring countries – although less than in previous years. There are currently over 169,000 IDPs and some 430,000 Burundi refugees in the region. Severe underfunding is challenging the ability of UNHCR and its partners to meet the minimum standards of humanitarian assistance. While conditions for organized returns are not yet in place, since September 2017 UNHCR has continued to assist refugees who wish to return on their own from the United Republic of Tanzania.