Joint UNHCR/WFP News Release: Food, shelter and protection promise stable future for Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo

Press Releases, 23 July 2010

Goma- The Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), Josette Sheeran, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), António Guterres, said they hoped more people displaced by years of conflict in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo will soon find the security they need to return to their homes and re-start farming their land.

"Worldwide we see that wherever security allows, people return to their homes and resume their lives," said Guterres. "We want to see more of this happening in eastern Congo. But it's a goal that can only be achieved if protection of civilians in DRC is both a national and international priority."

" I have no doubt that given the support they need, and the stability that they crave, the people of this region can take advantage of the fertile land they live on to build a better future," Sheeran said. "Where relative peace prevails, WFP is planning to help Congolese communities return to productive lives through innovative programmes that use cash, vouchers and local purchase to support the growing agricultural economy.

Sheeran and Guterres made their comments ahead of a visit to camps near Nyanzale for Congolese who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict in eastern Congo.

The camps for internally displaced people near Nyanzale, some 130 kilometres from North Kivu's provincial capital, Goma, highlight some of the most critical work being done by WFP and UNHCR in eastern Congo. Both agencies are supporting populations that have been forced from their land and villages by fighting, as well as preparing them for a better future if peace and stability endures.

WFP is providing food assistance to some 150,000 internally displaced people in North Kivu Province. That includes some 3,900 people living in three camps around Nyanzale. The vast majority of camp dwellers some 70 percent are women. Most have lost their husbands and many have been raped during years of violence in eastern Congo.

In North Kivu, UNHCR is assisting refugees, coordinating humanitarian assistance to 84,000 internally displaced people in 42 camps, and working to prevent and respond to sexual violence. UNHCR has assisted 106,000 IDPs in returning to their villages and re-building their lives since 2007.

In the past 15 months, relative stability in some areas has allowed over a million displaced people to return to their villages. Elsewhere, however, there has been significant new displacement. Given this shifting security environment Sheeran and Guterres warned that decisions relating to the future of UN peacekeepers must take into account their vital support to humanitarian agencies in reaching the displaced in remote and insecure areas.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Each year, on average, WFP feeds more than 90 million people in more than 70 countries.

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UNHCR works to help the world's refugees and internally displaced people. At the end of 2009 there were 43 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, including 15.2 million refugees (10.4 million of whom were under UNHCR's care), 983,000 asylum seekers, and 27.1 million internally displaced people.

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One of the first things that people need after being forced to flee their homes, whether they be refugees or internally displaced, is some kind of a roof over their head.

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Shelter for the Displaced in Yemen

The port city of Aden in southern Yemen has long been a destination for refugees, asylum-seekers and economic migrants after making the dangerous sea crossing from the Horn of Africa. Since May 2011, Aden also has been providing shelter to tens of thousands of Yemenis fleeing fighting between government forces and armed groups in neighbouring Abyan governorate.

Most of the 157,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) from Abyan have found shelter with friends and relatives, but some 20,000 have been staying in dozens of public schools and eight vacant public buildings. Conditions are crowded with several families living together in a single classroom.

Many IDPs expected their displacement would not be for long. They wish to return home, but cannot do so due to the fighting. Moreover, some are fearful of reprisals if they return to areas where many homes were destroyed or severely damaged in bombings.

UNHCR has provided emergency assistance, including blankets, plastic sheeting and wood stoves, to almost 70,000 IDPs from Abyan. Earlier this year, UNHCR rehabilitated two buildings, providing shelter for 2,000 people and allowing 3,000 children, IDPs and locals, to resume schooling in proper classrooms. UNHCR is advocating with the authorities for the conversion of additional public buildings into transitional shelters for the thousands of IDPs still living in schools.

Photographer Pepe Rubio Larrauri travelled to Aden in March 2012 to document the day-to-day lives of the displaced.

Shelter for the Displaced in Yemen

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

As a massive food distribution gets underway in six UNHCR-run camps for tens of thousands of internally displaced Congolese in North Kivu, the UN refugee agency continues to hand out desperately needed shelter and household items.

A four-truck UNHCR convoy carrying 33 tonnes of various aid items, including plastic sheeting, blankets, kitchen sets and jerry cans crossed Wednesday from Rwanda into Goma, the capital of the conflict-hit province in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The aid, from regional emergency stockpiles in Tanzania, was scheduled for immediate distribution. The supplies arrived in Goma as the World Food Programme (WFP), with assistance from UNHCR, began distributing food to some 135,000 displaced people in the six camps run by the refugee agency near Goma.

More than 250,000 people have been displaced since the fighting resumed in August in North Kivu. Estimates are that there are now more than 1.3 million displaced people in this province alone.

Posted on 6 November 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

Since 2006, renewed conflict and general insecurity in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo's North Kivu province has forced some 400,000 people to flee their homes – the country's worst displacement crisis since the formal end of the civil war in 2003. In total, there are now some 800,000 people displaced in the province, including those uprooted by previous conflicts.

Hope for the future was raised in January 2008 when the DRC government and rival armed factions signed a peace accord. But the situation remains tense in North Kivu and tens of thousands of people still need help. UNHCR has opened sites for internally displaced people (IDPs) and distributed assistance such as blankets, plastic sheets, soap, jerry cans, firewood and other items to the four camps in the region. Relief items have also been delivered to some of the makeshift sites that have sprung up.

UNHCR staff have been engaged in protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs and other populations at risk across North Kivu.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Posted on 28 May 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

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