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Over 33,000 refugees fled violence in DR Congo to Angola. People in Need helps with water, sanitation and hygiene

Over 33,000 refugees fled violence in DR Congo to Angola. People in Need helps with water, sanitation and hygiene

Dundo (4th September 2017)Violence and ethnic tensions in the Kasai Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has forced over 33,000 Congolese to seek safety in Angola's Lunda Norte Province since April this year. Refugees coming from DRC are reporting serious fighting, sexual and human rights abuses and a shortage of basic items. People in Need (PIN) with it's 11 years experience in Angola currently implementing WASH, nutrition, education, agriculture, health and civil society programmes in three Angolan provinces immediately decided to respond to emerging humanitarian crisis in the North of the country. PIN released 37,000 EUR from PIN Club of Friends emergency fund and have sent two aid workers to affected area. People in Need together with UNICEF will help 7,200 people with water, sanitation and hygiene in coming months.

The daily rate of refugees arrival ranged between 300 and 500 people a day for a significant time. Nowadays, the number of newly arrived refugees has decreased with an average of 1 to 5 persons per day. This is mainly because of the fact, that access to border areas through the main roads is limited. People have been usually coming with only basic belongings. Some 75% of refugees are children and women. Onode Oumama Jaqui (50) is one of them. "I have seven children and all of them came with me to Angola. We have left Congo because of the ongoing war in our area. Fortunately we were allowed to enter Angola," says the woman who has been accommodated in Cacanda, one of two reception centers.

With nothing to eat we were starving

"All the way we went on foot with my children and all luggage. We spent four days on the way crossing the bush," she describes the thorny path out of violence. "With nothing to eat, we were starving. Children became sick because of the hunger and I had no medicine for them," she adds. The family finally reached the reception center Cacanda in Angola where they received food and water. „We got place where to sleep and we know where to ask for medicine," says Onode Oumama Jaqui.

According to UN all refugees are in urgent need of protection, medical and psychosocial assistance, shelter, food and basic relief items. "Now we need a safe place to stay, but only until the war will be over. Then there will be not such problem in DR Congo," says Onode Oumama Jaqui. "Now we will stay here for sure not to worry about my children. We need such calm place to avoid suffering. Since we are here, everything is all right," she adds.

50,000 Congolese may seek asylum

As the security situation remains fluid in Kasai province humanitarian organizations are preparing to provide assistance to over 50,000 Congolese refugees who may seek asylum in Angola by the end of 2017. Even now 70% of the refugees live with the host community. Other refugees were originally accommodated in two overcrowded reception centres - Cacanda and Mussungue. „Reception centres have been operating beyond their maximum capacity and the conditions there did not allow us to provide adequate assistance,“ says PIN Emergency Coordinator Hugo Agostinho.

Therefore humanitarian partners and Angolan government decided to relocate refugees to Lóvua settlement some 100 kilometres further inland from the border with DR Congo. Relocation started in the beginning of August 2017. „We were taking part in others and organizing our own focus groups discussions in the centres to know more about needs and problems of refugees. As a result we designed community toilets which have been currently built by all other partners in Lóvua for instance,“ Hugo Agostinho describes.

PIN emergency response for 7,200 people

PIN together with UNICEF funding intends to use it's long-term experience with WASH programming in the Central Angola during the response. „The priority sector for us will be community-led approaches to water, sanitation and hygiene in order to improve practices in the refugee community. We will target 20 refugee village-based settlements with total number of 7,200 individuals,“ says Hugo Agostinho.

During the transitional period of communal WASH facilities, aspects regarding the cleaning and maintenance of the facilities as well as hygiene promotion is ensured. “We are also in charge of installation of water bladders with distribution system to ensure that relocated refugee families will have access to safe water for drinking and cooking” explains Hugo Agostinho. Hygiene promotion activities are systematically providing information on hygiene-related risks and preventive actions and ensure that people make the best use of the water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and maintain them.

“The humanitarian response is forgotten by humanitarian donors and hugely underfunded, with only one third of requested funds currently available. Despite all of this PIN with it's 11 years long history of development work in Angola will continue to support the people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance,” says Richard Walker, PIN Regional Director for Africa.

PIN in Angola

PIN mission in Angola was established in 2006, focused in one of the areas most affected by the conflict, Kuemba municipality, in Bié Province. Since then, the projects were expanded, and currently also assist communities in Huambo and Huíla Provinces. PIN works in a variety of sectors – education, food security and livelihoods, maternal and child health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene and gender and civil society. Actions foster community participation and engagement, creation of synergy with local authorities and development of innovative methodologies of participation and creation of alliance with the private sector.

For more information:

Richard Walker, PIN Regional Director for Africa, +420 774 260 568

Klára Jelinkova, PIN Desk Officer for Angola, +420 777 980 560

Author: People in Need