DRC - ReliefWeb News
Democratic Republic of the Congo: DRC: Amnesty International’s oral statement to the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council (27 February-24 March 2017)
AI Index: AFR 62/5917/2017
22 March 2017
Item 10 – Interactive Dialogue on the Democratic Republic of Congo
Amnesty International’s oral statement to the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council (27 February-24 March 2017)
Amnesty International welcomes the Human Rights Council’s continued interest in the human rights situation in the DRC.
Since 2015, we have documented patterns of human rights violations and crimes under international law linked to the end of President Kabila’s second and last constitutional term.
Amnesty International has documented the use of disproportionate, excessive and lethal force by the security forces in handling demonstrations.
The Joint Human Rights Office documented the killing of at least 93 people in the context of the 19 September and 19 December protests. To date no serious investigations have been conducted.
The government continues to restrict civic space by banning opposition and civil society groups from
organizing or expressing themselves on issues of public interest. Security forces, including the
National Intelligence Service, continue to carry out arbitrary arrests and unlawful detentions of those
calling for free and fair elections.
Authorities have failed to provide adequate remedies for recent inter-ethnic violence in Rutshuru. In the Kasai region, government forces have allegedly used excessive force against the armed group Kamuina Nsapu.
The abduction on 12 March of two UN experts and four Congolese aides who were investigating recent attacks is a sign of further deterioration of the human rights situation in the Central Kasai province.
Amnesty International urges the DRC to:
promptly and independently investigate security forces’ violence and human rights violations during protests and state authority enforcement operations;
lift all unlawful bans on protests and facilitate demonstrations organized by the opposition and civil society groups;
engage in a meaningful reform of the National Intelligence Service and establish an oversight mechanism of its activities
step up efforts – in collaboration with UN forces - to protect civilians in the area of armed conflict and adequately address interethnic conflicts.
Central African Republic: UNICEF Central African Republic Humanitarian Situation Report, February 2017
In Ouaka Prefecture, FPRC coalition has taken control of the most important UPC strongholds outside Bambari. The UNICEF-led RRM is responding to the displacement all around Bambari area. UNICEF Bambari and humanitarian actors in place set a Contingency Plan covering at least 15,000 additional IDPs.
The most important IDP site (M'Poko) has been completely emptied of its population of 28,710 people. The UNICEF-led WASH Cluster has finalized an intervention strategy to cover needs for M’Poko returnees in Bangui neighbourhoods.
Overall the performance indicators of Severe Acute Malnutrition are within the standards in all units but one: the In-Patient Therapeutic unit of Nola (Sangha Mbaere) with a death rate of 11% is an “outlier” to investigate and address quickly.
Thus far in 2017, UNICEF supported the Government and partners to establish 201 Temporary Learning Spaces in 32 IDP sites for 22,687 children (51% girls).
1,526 children (789 girls and 737 boys) for psychosocial, education and recreation support in the Kaga Bandoro area.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
According to the Commission Mouvement Population (CMP), as of the end of January 2017, a reported 402,240 people are at the moment internally displaced (IDPs), living in 86 IDP sites throughout the country and within host families. This represents a 2.3% decrease as compared to December 2016, largely due to the closure of some IDPs sites in Bangui and to a return movement in Kaga Bandoro IDP sites near the MINUSCA base that exceeds the new displacement observed in Ouaka and Haute Kotto Prefectures.
The most important IDP site in Bangui and CAR, M'Poko Airport, has been completely emptied of its population of 28,710 people under the initiative of the Government, supported by the humanitarian community. A survey in the return neighbourhoods found that only 50% of IDPs resettled in their original neighbourhoods, while the remaining headed to receiving areas, supported by host families, due to the destruction of their houses and to the persistent insecurity in their areas of origin.
In Ouaka Prefecture, FPRC coalition has taken control of the most important UPC strongholds outside Bambari,
Prefecture’s capital town. In Bambari, the situation is calm at the moment under MINUSCA control.
Humanitarian access outside Bambari is almost impossible due to security reasons. The humanitarian community has estimated 30,000 IDPs on the axis as aftermath of the fighting between these two ex-Seleka factions, in addition to 40,000 IDPs already presents in Bambari town. The NFI local response plan has the capacity to respond to 15,000 people, nearly 50% of the expected newly displaced persons. In Ippy, 120 km eastward from Bambari, a community of 250 Peuhls are at risk, living in an enclave and they are supposed to be exfiltrated by International Forces in Bambari.
Northwestern towns of Bocaranga and Koui remain real hotspots from a security and humanitarian point of view.
Bocaranga suffered a sustained attack by an armed group committing lootings and exactions against the population. Some 9,000 newly displaced people from Bocaranga to surrounding villages have been reported.
Two NGOs bases were looted and one of them was partially burned down. Humanitarian actors temporarily suspended their activities. Reports from Koui indicate that the IDPs residing besides MINUSCA base (some 600 people) are intending to move out. Advocacy is ongoing to obtain humanitarian access in town, not yet granted, to assist them properly.
Since December 2016, an important return movement is being observed in Batangafo area, Ouham Prefecture.
At least 8,000 people have already left Batangafo IDPs sites to join their areas of origin in town and on the axis as some 14,000 people remain on site. The humanitarian community estimates that, in terms of assistance, the current context in Batangafo is conducive to the combination of approaches that link humanitarian action with rehabilitation and development activities.
Africa's oldest and deepest lake is in danger
Lake Tanganyika is one of the world’s natural wonders. Holding about 17 percent of the globe’s surface freshwater, it is also the oldest and the deepest lake in Africa. Bordering four countries (Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania and Zambia), it offers a source of livelihood for over 10 million people.
A BIODIVERSITY HOTSPOT
The lake is home to over 700 species of fish that are found nowhere else in the world and borders several national parks and nature reserves that are of worldwide significance for the protection of wildlife. The region includes forest areas that are among the few remaining habitats for chimpanzees and gorillas.
FACTORS OF DECLINE
The region has been plagued by recurring episodes of violence with severe humanitarian consequences. Poverty is rampant, and environmental degradation is proceeding at alarming rates. The lake basin is increasingly vulnerable to the effects of human activities, such as deforestation, unsustainable agricultural and fishing practices, mining activities and pollution.
The magnitude of these threats is intensified by the impacts of climate change and of the population growth in the basin which, at a rate of 2 to 3 percent annually, is among the highest on the planet.
Direct causes for these threats include lack of resources such as skills, infrastructure and funds; poor enforcement of existing regulations or too few appropriate regulations for the management of the Lake, extreme poverty and limited sustainable livelihood options for the basin population.
UNDP, with Global Environment Fund financing, has been supporting and enhancing the capacity of the four governments to jointly manage the resources of Lake Tanganyika and its basin since the early 1990s.
Various projects promote environmentally sustainable agricultural practices, tree planting, energy efficient stoves, and alternative income-generating activities in pilot communities.
In Uvira, in the DR Congo, the project trained the basin population to manufacture energy saving stoves made entirely of local materials. A local association later adopted manufacturing of the stoves as a business venture. In Tanzania, the promotion of energy efficient stoves to reduce wood consumption helped reduce its consumption from 15 m3 to about 5 m3 per month.
A key component of the programme was to involve local communities, especially women, in awareness raising activities and implementation, but also in the decision-making processes. This resulted in high levels of local ownership, involvement and support.
"We (the female farmers) also teach other groups and make them aware of the environmental problems and the solutions we have. Initially there were only 25 people in our group. Now there are 50 other women who want to do the same thing. Tina Shagayo, farmer"
Everywhere in the four countries bordering the lake, communities are investing in developing environmentally-friendly, sustainable livelihoods. They are building fish ponds, beekeeping, raising poultry and growing crops like rice and maize.
Sebi Nafukwe, in Zambia, received a small loan to give up fishing and diversify her activities. She reports that her income increased from an average of $157 to $5,000 a year.
“I never knew farming could be so economically rewarding.” Sebi Nafukwe, former fisherwoman
At the same time, farmers are planting pine trees to control and reduce the effects of erosion on the steep slopes of Lake Tanganyika. Sedimentation pollutes the water, prevents natural vegetation from growing and kills fish. Since the project began, the sedimentation rate of Lake Tanganyika has fallen from 159 tonnes per day to 115 tonnes per day in the Lufubu River, where two of the 11 participating villages in Zambia are located.
In Burundi, as a first step to reduce water pollution, a pilot investment in the wastewater collection and treatment capacity of the capital, Bujumbura, resulted in a significant increase of the volume of treated wastewater entering into the lake, from 6,000 m3 to 11,000 m3.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
The four countries bordering the Lake committed to take joint action by establishing the Lake Tanganyika Authority in 2008.
Since then, the intergovernmental body's capacity was strengthened and its Strategic Action Programme revised to incorporate emerging threats, such as climate change and biological invasion. Four National Action Plans, one for each country, were also developed to link transboundary priorities with national development objectives.
Democratic Republic of the Congo: RDC : seule la mise en œuvre de l’Accord du 31 décembre mettra fin à l’« impasse » politique, affirme le Représentant spécial
Conseil de sécurité
7903e séance – matin
21 mars 2017
Le Représentant spécial du Secrétaire général pour la République démocratique du Congo (RDC) a, ce matin devant le Conseil de sécurité, rappelé que la mise en œuvre de l’Accord politique du 31 décembre 2016, « qui ouvre de la façon la plus claire la voie à la tenue des élections », incombait en premier lieu à ses signataires. « Aussi longtemps que le dialogue politique demeurera dans l’impasse, les tensions risquent de monter » dans le pays, a déclaré M. Maman Sidikou.
« En février, des séminaires et paroisses de l’Église catholique à Kananga, Kinshasa et Lubumbashi ont été attaqués, vraisemblablement à cause des frustrations accrues au sein de certains segments de la population qui voient le processus politique s’enliser », a expliqué M. Sidikou, qui présentait au Conseil le rapport* du Secrétaire général sur la Mission de l’Organisation des Nations Unies pour la stabilisation en République démocratique du Congo (MONUSCO).
L’Archevêque de Kisangani, M. Marcel Utembi Tapa, a estimé que l’« Accord de la Saint-Sylvestre », négocié sous les auspices de la Conférence épiscopale nationale du Congo (CENCO), qu’il préside, constituait « la seule feuille de route » pouvant sortir le pays de la crise institutionnelle. Pour la « première » fois depuis son indépendance, la RDC est en effet confrontée à une situation où l’ensemble des institutions élues ont « épuisé » leur mandat, a-t-il constaté.
M. Sidikou, qui dirige la MONUSCO, a donné l’assurance aux membres du Conseil que celle-ci continuerait de soutenir la mise en œuvre de l’Accord, même si les « profonds changements » survenus au cours des derniers mois sur le plan politique et sécuritaire en RDC nécessitaient « un ajustement des priorités et de la posture » de la Mission.
« J’ai demandé que la stratégie de la MONUSCO sur la protection des civils soit révisée pour faire face à la menace des groupes armés de l’est de la RDC qui pèse sur la population civile, à la propagation de la violence ethnique et des milices d’autodéfense », a affirmé le Représentant spécial, qui a incriminé les Forces démocratiques alliées (ADF), les Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) et la Force de résistance patriotique de l’Ituri (FRPI), ainsi que des éléments de l’ex-mouvement rebelle M23, qui ont « refait surface ».
Qualifiant de « mitigés » les résultats de la coopération entre les forces gouvernementales congolaises et celles de la MONUSCO dans l’est du pays, le Vice-Premier Ministre et Ministre des affaires étrangères de la RDC, M. Léonard She Okitundu, a jugé « inadmissible » que la « mission de paix de l’ONU la plus importante », déployée « depuis environ deux décennies », « n’ait pas encore mis un terme à la crise ».
S’il a appuyé le renouvellement du mandat de la Mission, M. She Okitundu a souligné la nécessité pour elle de renforcer sa brigade spéciale d’intervention pour parvenir à l’éradication des « forces négatives », en la dotant d’une deuxième unité.
Plaidant elle aussi en ce sens, Mme Marie-Madeleine Kalala, qui s’exprimait au nom de la Plateforme Cause Commune, a assuré que les Congolais, « traumatisés par l’inaction de la MONUSCO », voyaient en elle « une force de comptage des morts ».
Dans son rapport, le Secrétaire général recommande la prorogation du mandat de la Mission pour une période d’un an, avec une augmentation de 1 050 à 1 370 hommes de l’effectif autorisé de la composante de police pour prévenir les risques de violence électorale et de violence politique dans les principaux centres urbains.
Cette résurgence de la violence a été exacerbée par les incertitudes actuelles, la manipulation des griefs à des fins politiques et le soutien apporté par certains acteurs politiques aux milices armées, a expliqué le Représentant spécial. Le principal objectif stratégique de la Mission au cours des prochains mois est de « favoriser la création d’un environnement propice à la tenue en temps opportun d’élections pacifiques, crédibles et inclusives, conformément aux dispositions de l’Accord », a-t-il résumé.
Mais pour que la MONUSCO puisse s’acquitter de ce mandat, « certains blocages doivent être levés », selon lui. La majorité au pouvoir et le Rassemblement des forces politiques et sociales de la République démocratique du Congo acquises au changement ont en effet des points de vue divergents sur les modalités de désignation du premier ministre et de répartition des portefeuilles clefs du gouvernement de transition qui sera formé », a observé le haut fonctionnaire, en notant également que le rôle que pourrait jouer la CENCO à l’issue de la finalisation de l’« Arrangement particulier », destiné à assurer la mise en œuvre de l’Accord, était « source de discorde ».
En outre, la mort d’Étienne Tshisekedi, figure de l’opposition congolaise, avait eu un impact significatif sur le processus politique congolais, retardant la finalisation de cet arrangement, a relaté M. Sidikou. Assurant qu’il n’existait aucune manœuvre « dilatoire » de la part de son gouvernement dans l’application de l’Accord, le Vice-Premier Ministre a mis ce retard sur le compte de « circonstances objectives », appelant l’opposition à s’entendre sur le choix du successeur de Tshisekedi.
Le Représentant spécial a toutefois exprimé sa satisfaction à l’annonce de nominations récentes allant selon lui « dans le bon sens », comme la désignation du Secrétaire général adjoint de l’Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social (UDPS), M. Felix Tshisekedi, comme Président du Rassemblement, et d’un représentant du Groupe des sept (G7), M. Pierre Lumbi, à la tête du Conseil des sages du Rassemblement.
Leur arrivée à en effet permis la reprise, le 16 mars, des négociations autour de l’« Arrangement particulier ». De plus, les présidents des deux chambres du Parlement ont appelé à un processus électoral irréversible et crédible, exprimant leur soutien aux efforts de la CENCO.
Autre avancée significative, selon M. Sidikou: la mise à jour du fichier électoral, qui compte désormais plus de 19 millions d’électeurs inscrits au moment où le processus est sur le point de débuter dans les deux « zones opérationnelles d’enrôlement restantes ».
« Si le Conseil de sécurité l’autorise, la MONUSCO est disposée à apporter un soutien technique et logistique au processus électoral qui irait au-delà de la mise à jour du fichier », a offert le Chef de la Mission.
« Aujourd’hui, près de 20 millions d’électeurs sont déjà enrôlés sur un peu plus des 41 millions attendus pour l’ensemble du territoire national », s’est enorgueilli le Vice-Premier Ministre, en estimant que la Commission électorale nationale indépendante (CENI) aura achevé la refonte totale du fichier électoral au 31 juillet 2017.
Conscient des difficultés posées par l’organisation d’élections dans un pays marqué par l’expansion de la violence dans plusieurs régions, le Représentant spécial s’est également dit préoccupé par ses conséquences les plus graves, au premier chef les déplacements massifs de population et les violations des droits de l’homme, en hausse de 30% par rapport à 2015.
Le représentant de l’Uruguay a lui aussi exprimé sa consternation devant ces chiffres.
Alors que la MONUSCO a attribué les deux tiers de ces violations à des « agents de l’État », le Ministre a contesté la « fiabilité » des rapports du Bureau conjoint de l’ONU aux droits de l’homme en RDC, affirmant qu’il n’y avait « aucune politique délibérée de violations » en cours.
La justice congolaise aurait même abouti à une « baisse sensible » de ces violences, a-t-il dit, avant de demander un retrait de son pays « de la liste des pays indexés pour viols », mais aussi de celle « des pays dont les armées recrutent et utilisent des enfants ».
À l’intention des organes d’information • Document non officiel.
Democratic Republic of the Congo: Delayed Elections, Stalled Peace Accord Prolonging Political Uncertainty in Democratic Republic of Congo, Key Official Tells Security Council
7903rd Meeting (AM)
21 March 2017
Mission’s Efforts ‘Unacceptable’ as Uruguay, Civil Society Representatives Cite Remaining Tasks amid Persisting Violence
Delays in holding elections and in implementation of the comprehensive and inclusive agreement signed on 31 December 2016 was prolonging the political uncertainty plaguing the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Security Council heard today, as briefers described the country’s deteriorating security and humanitarian situation as a source of major concern.
Briefing on the situation was Maman Sidikou, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), who presented the relevant report of the Secretary-General (document S/2017/206). He pointed to the forthcoming elections in emphasizing the need for United Nations support, citing the diverging points of view and violence causing further delay.
Emphasizing that the risk of electoral violence remained high, mainly in urban areas, he cautioned that it was likely to rise further. Delayed implementation of the “comprehensive and inclusive political agreement”, signed in Kinshasa on 31 December 2016, was prolonging the current political uncertainty, he pointed out. He expressed particular concern about reports of excessive use of force, and the discovery of mass graves in the Kasai provinces, and encouraged the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to conduct thorough investigations and ensure that the perpetrators were held fully to account.
He went on to state that community-based violence and inter-ethnic clashes had spread from provinces already affected by armed conflict. While coordinated military operations by MONUSCO and the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC) had helped to maintain military pressure on armed groups, the resurgence of violence in the rest of the country had been exacerbated by the uncertain political situation, the manipulation of grievances for political ends, and the support provided to armed militias by some political actors. “Only political solutions can address and stem the rising levels of violence now being witnessed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” he said. MONUSCO remained fully engaged in protecting and promoting human rights and political space, he stressed.
The 31 December agreement provided a clear path towards elections, setting the stage for MONUSCO’s drawdown and exit, he said. In that regard, the Mission’s main strategic objective would be to support the establishment of an environment conducive to the timely holding of peaceful, credible and inclusive elections, in accordance with the agreement’s provisions. Accordingly, MONUSCO had already adjusted its posture and operations, provided support for updating the voter register, and strengthened its civilian and military presence and operations in new areas of concern, he said.
Addressing the Council, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo said that it was “unacceptable” that MONUSCO was unable to end the crisis in his country, which had lasted several years. Any extension of its mandate must respect the wishes of the Congolese people, he emphasized. The Mission was no longer the sole responder to most of the nation’s residual security challenges, he added, crediting the national armed forces with having undertaken nearly all response, and calling upon the Council to provide an exit-strategy timeline for MONUSCO. Support from the Mission was running into difficulties, noting delays in the delivery of electoral materials. Despite that setback, however, the Government was committed to creating conditions for a peaceful and transparent electoral process, he said.
The Deputy Prime Minister, who is also Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, condemned duplicity and lack of cooperation on the part of certain countries, he urged the United Nations to take the necessary steps to swiftly expel their combatants from Congolese territory. He also condemned the abduction of two Security Council experts, saying the national security forces were trying to find them. Turning to the human rights situation, he said ad hoc organizations were responsible for helping the Government provide support in that regard. Pointing out the drop in sexual violence, he called for his country’s removal from the list of those with high rates of rape, and those recruiting children for use as soldiers.
Turning to the forthcoming elections, he said some 12 million voters had already been registered. The political agenda was currently dominated by the 31 December agreement, he said, assuring the Council that the Government had no intention of delaying its implementation. Regarding security, he noted the continuing presence of armed groups and combatants in the eastern part of the country and pledged that the national armed forces would continue their mission until all such criminals were eradicated.
Uruguay’s representative emphasized that it was “very difficult” to understand the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s request to reduce the Mission and present an exit strategy, declaring: “This is no time for political game-playing.” The most pressing task before the United Nations was to support implementation of the transition agreement, to contribute to the holding of elections and the peaceful transfer of power, he said. Conflict had reared its ugly head in several parts of the country, and the Organization had itself been a victim, as seen in the recent abduction of two Security Council experts.
Also addressing the Council was the President of the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (CENCO), who noted that the Democratic Republic of the Congo was in the midst of a sociopolitical crisis, emphasizing that the 31 December accord was the “only document that can rescue” the country from a constitutional crisis. Yet its implementation had stalled, he said, adding that tensions continued to simmer. The Catholic Church had been targeted by the militia accusing it of not doing enough to promote implementation of the agreement.
A third briefer, from the Common Cause Network, declared: “Citizens no longer have trust in State institutions,” citing excessive use of force, human rights violations and the discovery of mass graves, as well as the stagnant economy, monetary depreciation, corruption, unemployment, and the lack of access to basic social services. “Political dialogue is the only way to settle this crisis,” she said. The people’s long suffering was no longer acceptable.
The meeting began at 11:03 a.m. and ended at 12:07 p.m.
MAMAN SIDIKOU, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), pointed to the forthcoming elections in emphasizing the need for United Nations support, citing the diverging point of views and violence further delaying finalization of “l’arrangement particulier”. Despite the delays, however, significant progress had been made in the registration of voters, he said, adding that MONUSCO had transported 3,000 tons of registration materials.
He went on to emphasize that the country’s deteriorating security situation remained a source of major concern. Community-based violence and inter-ethnic clashes had spread from provinces already affected by armed conflict, such as the [North and South] Kivus, to Tanganyika, the three Kasai provinces [Kasai, Kasai Central, Kasai Oriental], Lomami and Kongo Central. Coordinated operations by MONUSCO and the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC) against armed groups had helped to maintain military pressure, but the resurgence of violence in the rest of the country had been exacerbated by the uncertain political situation, the manipulation of grievances for political ends, and the support provided to armed militias by some political actors.
The risk of electoral violence remained high, mainly in urban areas, he continued, cautioning that it was likely to rise further. Delayed implementation of the “comprehensive and inclusive political agreement”, signed in Kinshasa on 31 December 2016, was prolonging the current political uncertainty, he pointed out. The spread of violence had been characterized by a significant increase in human rights abuses, with 2016 having witnessed a 30 per cent increase in such violations compared to 2015. Expressing particular concern about reports of excessive use of force, and the presence of mass graves in the Kasai provinces, he reported that he had encouraged the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to conduct thorough investigations and to ensure that the perpetrators were held fully to account.
MONUSCO stood ready to provide full support for the investigations, he emphasized. “Only political solutions can address and stem the rising levels of violence now being witnessed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” he said, adding that MONUSCO remained fully engaged in protecting and promoting human rights and political space. The Mission was also applying the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy in strict implementation of its mandate. He went on to voice concern about the country’s deteriorating socioeconomic and humanitarian situation, including the continuing depreciation of the Congolese franc, the lack of foreign currency reserves and the fiscal shortfall, all of which were having an increasing impact on the livelihoods of citizens. The deteriorating economy, coupled with the deteriorating humanitarian situation resulting from the intensifying violence, had led to the forcible displacement of 2.2 million people, he said.
The comprehensive and inclusive political agreement of 31 December provided a clear path towards the holding of elections, setting the stage for MONUSCO’s drawdown and exit. The Mission’s main strategic objective for the next months would be to support the establishment of an environment conducive to the timely holding of peaceful, credible and inclusive elections, in accordance with the agreement’s provisions. Accordingly, MONUSCO had already undertaken adjustments of its posture and operations, and support for updating the voter register, while strengthening its civilian and military presence and operations in new areas of concern. Emphasizing that the primary responsibility for the agreement’s implementation rested with its signatories, he said the Mission would provide support to that objective, and for efforts to address the mounting threats faced by the civilian population during the transition period.
MARCEL UTEMBI, President of the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (CENCO), welcomed the various dialogues that had led to the signing of the comprehensive and inclusive political agreement signed in Kinshasa on 31 December 2016. Noting that the Democratic Republic of the Congo was in the midst of a sociopolitical crisis, he said the 31 December accord was the “only document that can rescue” the country from a constitutional crisis, yet its implementation had stalled. Delaying implementation did nothing to ease political tension in the country, he emphasized, noting that bloody clashes and violations of human rights remained of great concern. Conflict had been spiralling out of control, marked by hundreds of deaths and a lack of humanitarian assistance. Local people were being massacred in North Kivu Province and entire families had been displaced, he said, adding that such atrocities went entirely unchecked.
With tensions continuing to simmer, the Catholic Church had itself been targeted by militia accusing it of not doing enough to help implementation of the 31 December agreement, he continued. Touching on the sociopolitical crisis adversely impacting the economy, he said both private and public businesses stood idle and people’s low purchasing power prevented them from meeting their most basic needs. The Congolese people must stand courageously, he said, emphasizing that they could only overcome the crisis through the rapid and comprehensive implementation of the 31 December agreement as the only realistic road map to resolution of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He called on the international community, particularly the African Union, European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom to provide humanitarian aid to all victims, exert pressure on all stakeholders and pursue an impartial investigation into the bloody clashes.
MARIE-MADELEINE KALALA, Common Cause Network, expressed concern about the deteriorating security situation in her country and the spread of community-based violence and inter-ethnic clashes. The uncertain political situation and the failure to hold elections had exacerbated the crisis, leading to the resurgence of violence. Also concerning were excessive use of force, violations of human rights, the discovery of mass graves, the stagnant economy, monetary depreciation, corruption, unemployment and the lack of access to basic social services, she said. “Citizens no longer have trust in State institutions,” she declared, emphasizing that women, the elderly and children were paying the price.
The judiciary system was incapable of providing justice, and women’s representation in Parliament was less than 3 per cent, she continued, declaring: “Political dialogue is the only way to settle this crisis.” The population’s long suffering was no longer acceptable, she said, underlining that political actors must honour their commitments. She went on to point out that no electoral calendar had been published yet, while underlining the responsibility of State institutions for preparing the elections. She also expressed regret that the international community had remained silent amid the murders and killings taking place in Beni. “Je suis Beni” had not had the same impact as “Je suis Paris” or “Je suis Munich”, she noted.
ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) reiterated his country’s commitment to peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, not only as an elected member of the Council but also as a troop contributor to MONUSCO. Noting that implementation of the 31 December agreement had stalled almost three months after signature, he emphasized that the most pressing task before the United Nations now was to support implementation of the transition agreement, and contribute to the holding of elections and a peaceful transfer of power. Conflict had reared its ugly head in several parts of the country and the United Nations had itself been a victim, as seen with the recent abduction of two Security Council experts, he noted.
Reiterating that responsibility to exercise maximum restraint when responding to legitimate popular protests and demand lay with the national authorities, he urged the Government also to address and meet the dire humanitarian needs of millions. MONUSCO needed a resource boost in order to help the national authorities ensure security, he said, warning that, amid the flaring tensions, it was “very difficult” to understand the request of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to reduce the Mission’s presence and present an exit strategy. “This is no time for political game-playing,” he stressed.
LEONARD SHE OKITUNDU, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Democratic Republic of the Congo, took note of the Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations Mission in his country. He said an inclusive national dialogue was critical to tackling the national sociopolitical crisis, emphasizing that both agreements reached in the course of 2016, one in July and one in December, had made positive contributions, including to the holding of free and democratic elections. The political situation in the country was currently governed by the 31 December agreement, he said, assuring the Council that the Government had no intention of delaying its implementation. He added that he remained convinced the parties could reach agreement with the resumption of negotiations. The Government was also using all necessary means to implement the agreement. As for free and democratic elections, he said some 12 million voters had already been registered, outlining various steps taken by the Government.
However, support from MONUSCO was running into difficulties, including delays in delivering electoral materials, he said, while pledging that the Government would spare no effort in creating the conditions for a peaceful and transparent electoral process. That should be done without any strings attached, he emphasized. On security, he said the national forces would continue their mission against armed groups and combatants in the eastern part of the country until all such criminals were eradicated. To achieve that goal, the armed forces would continue their cooperation with the MONUSCO, he said, while underlining that it was “unacceptable” that the Mission was unable to end the crisis, which had lasted several years. Any extension of its mandate must respect the wishes of the Congolese people. Appropriate resources, as well as improved cooperation and knowledge-sharing, were critical to fighting armed groups, he said, pointing out that while some of them had agreed to the Nairobi Declaration, they had since violated that agreement, and only a small number had agreed to be repatriated from Uganda.
He condemned duplicity and lack of cooperation on the part of certain countries, urging the United Nations to take the necessary steps to swiftly expel their combatants from the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Condemning the abduction of two Security Council experts, he said the national security forces were trying to find them. He also underlined that MONUSCO was no longer the sole responder to most of the nation’s residual security challenges, saying the national armed forces undertook nearly all response, and calling on the Council to provide an exit-strategy timeline for the Mission. Turning to human rights, he said ad hoc organizations were responsible for helping the Government provide support in that regard. The existence of the President’s Office of Human Rights was proof of the Government’s willingness to meet the people’s needs, he said, reiterating his country’s commitment to international human rights standards.
Concerning freedom of public protest, he said the authorities were responsible for ensuring that demonstrators stuck to the itinerary, and must also safeguard public order and prevent damage to infrastructure. He went on to point out that the Democratic Republic of the Congo had experienced a drop in sexual violence, calling for its removal from the list of countries with high rates of rape. He also called for the country’s delisting from the ranks of countries recruiting children and using them as soldiers. The forthcoming extension of MONUSCO’S mandate should bring peace and an end to the tragedy that the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been dealing with for far too long, he said.
For information media. Not an official record.
WFP’s main priority is to provide food assistance to refugees and vulnerable host communities, and to build national capacity to design and manage homegrown hunger solutions.
The refugee operation is likely to face significant disruptions from May 2017, if additional funding is not forthcoming.
A new phase of the prevention of stunting programme under the Country Programme was not initiated at the beginning of the year because of funding shortfalls.
In February, WFP provided food assistance to 241,631 people, including vulnerable host populations and refugees in camps through general distributions, nutrition interventions, asset creation activities and school meals programmes in food insecure areas.
WFP’s food assistance through cash-based transfers to Congolese refugees continued in February, using the multi-wallet smart cards which use biometrics for identification checks. In February, WFP transferred USD 353,256 to 45,647 refugees in three camps (Nyabiheke, Gihembe and Kigeme), enabling them to buy food of their choice from the local markets. In addition, WFP transferred USD 93,696 to local households participating in asset creation activities. In addition to the cash-based transfers, WFP provided 1,700 mt of assorted food commodities to refugees and school children in food insecure districts.
Over 50 percent of the food distributed in February was purchased locally. WFP is training 8,500 smallholder farmers in farmers’ cooperatives on post-harvest handling and storage ahead of the harvest season, in order to prepare them to meet WFP’s quality requirements.
As of 28 February 2017, a total of 85,000 Burundians had arrived in Rwanda since the start of the political crisis in Burundi in April 2015. Of these, 53,500 are hosted in Mahama camp and receive WFP food assistance, while the remainder are living in urban areas. In addition, WFP assists 74,100 Congolese refugees residing in five camps as well as 7,500 Congolese asylum seekers.
A recent joint mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) screening for children aged 6-59 months among Burundian refugees by UNHCR, UNICEF and WFP indicates that the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) has decreased from 4.1 percent in July 2016 to 2.6 percent in December 2016.
Despite the generous contribution from funding partners, WFP continues to face resource shortfalls affecting the refugee operation. WFP requires USD 5.6 million to meet the needs of the refugees in the next six months (March-August 2017). If additional resources are not forthcoming, the refugee operation risks to be seriously affected from May 2017. Given the protracted crisis in Burundi and the deteriorating security situation in the DRC, which is likely to trigger refugee influxes into Rwanda, it is essential to maintain adequate funding levels to be able to respond to the increased needs.
Under the Country Programme, a new phase of the prevention of stunting programme for children aged 6-23 months, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers has been discontinued due to lack of new funding. The discontinuation of the programme will erode gains made by the joint UN nutrition project in addressing stunting in Rwanda and will put children at risk in the most food insecure areas with high levels of chronic malnutrition.
Democratic Republic of the Congo: Democratic Republic of Congo - New displacements (DG ECHO, OCHA) (ECHO Daily Flash of 21 March 2017)
Following new armed groups clashes in the Haut-Katanga region, 2 000 households have been displaced in Mitwaba territory. In addition, villages have been looted, houses burnt and 10 people kidnapped. The Rapid Response Mechanism to Population Movement (RRMP), supported by DG ECHO, has been activated to evaluate needs of IDPs and affected populations.
Conflict has resumed in the Haut Katanga region between newly created armed groups, following the surrender of the former armed group leader named Gédéon.
Due to insecurity in the region, the RRMP had to temporarily stop its operations last September. The region is also hosting IDPs arriving from the bordering Tanganyika province, where the renewed inter ethnic conflict between Luba and Twa has caused the displacement of 34 000 people between December 2016 and January 2017. Those arrivals are putting a burden on the very precarious capacities of the receiving communities. In some villages in Mitwaba, the number of displaced people is twice the size of the host families.
- The ongoing socio-political crisis, displacements, disruption of livelihood activities and the deterioration of the economy remain the key drivers of food insecurity in Burundi.
In February, WFP provided food assistance to 497,450 people in food insecure areas, including refugees in camps, through general distributions, nutrition interventions, asset creation activities and the school meals programme.
Burundi is facing an extremely severe humanitarian situation. An estimated 2.1 million people are food insecure, of whom 806,000 are severely food insecure and require urgent food assistance. The most affected provinces are Bubanza, Bujumbura Rural, Cankuzo, Cibitoke, Muyinga, Kirundo, Ruyigi and Makamba.
The overall security situation in Burundi remains calm, despite the continued influx of Burundian refugees into neighbouring countries. According to UNHCR, as of 31 January, 386,833 Burundian refugees had crossed borders into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, since the socio-political crisis begun in April 2015.
According to IOM’s Displacement Tracking matrix (DTM), there were 141,221 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in February. The DTM report indicates that natural disasters contribute to 60 percent of the displacements.
Impact of Limited Funding
- Limited funding continues to negatively impact the implementation of CP and PRRO activities. WFP has reduced the SuperCereal portion of the general distributions by 50 percent for refugees, in order to stretch available resources. Under the CP, the number of people assisted through the prevention of stunting activities has been reduced by 70 percent, and has also resulted in the suspension of the programme in Muramvya and Rutana Provinces. The suspension and reduction in the number of people assisted under this activity will have a negative impact on the nutrition status of children under the age of two.
Democratic Republic of the Congo: La MONUSCO exprime ses vives préoccupations sur les récents développements à Kananga
Kinshasa, le 18 mars 2017 - La MONUSCO exprime ses vives préoccupations sur les allégations faisant état de nouvelles violences à Kananga entre le 14 et le 17 mars 2017. La Mission a reçu des informations crédibles selon lesquelles un nombre important de personnes auraient été tuées au cours d'affrontements entre des miliciens de Kamwina Nsapu et des membres des forces de sécurité congolaises.
La MONUSCO est préoccupée par les attaques des miliciens de Kamwina Nsapu contre les institutions et symboles étatiques, mais également par l'utilisation disproportionnée de la force par les forces de défense et de sécurité, notamment en ciblant des civils, dont des femmes et des enfants. Dans la nuit du 14 au 15 mars 2017, les opérations des forces de sécurité à Kananga ont conduit à un grand nombre de victimes.
La MONUSCO exprime également ses fortes préoccupations face aux restrictions imposées par les forces de sécurité à sa liberté de circulation à Kananga ces derniers jours, ce qui limite la capacité de la Mission à mettre en œuvre son mandat.
"Je demande la cessation immédiate des violences à Kananga et dans la région du Kasaï, et déplore l'usage disproportionné de la force", a déclaré Maman Sambo Sidikou, Représentant spécial du Secrétaire général des Nations Unies en RDC. "Je demande également l'arrêt immédiat de toute restriction à la liberté de circulation de la MONUSCO, qui limite sa capacité à accomplir pleinement son mandat en RDC. Je demande aussi l'ouverture d'enquêtes par les autorités compétentes sur les événements de ces derniers jours à Kananga, et que les responsables de toutes les violations des droits de l'homme soient traduits en justice."
South Sudan: Report of the Secretary-General on South Sudan (covering the period from 16 December 2016 to 1 March 2017) (S/2017/224) [EN/AR]
- The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2327 (2016), by which the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) until 15 December 2017 and requested me to report on the implementation of the mandate every 90 days. It covers developments from 16 December 2016 to 1 March 2017 and contains recommendations on the steps to adapt UNMISS to the situation on the ground and to increase the efficiency of the implementation of its mandate.
II. Political and economic developments
Since the adoption on 16 December 2016 of resolution 2327 (2016), there has been minimal progress towards implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (the peace agreement). Gichira Kibara (Kenya), the new Chair of the National Constitutional Amendment Committee established under chapter I of the peace agreement, visited Juba in December. During his visit, he consulted with members of the Constitutional Amendment Committee and the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission on the Amendment Committee’s work and the need to develop an action plan for the implementation of the mandate of the Committee. On 15 December, the Ministry of Justice inaugurated the technical committee for the consultative process on the establishment of the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing, in accordance with chapter V of the peace agreement. The technical committee is chaired by the Ministry of Justice and includes representatives from the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare, the South Sudan Peace Commission, the South Sudan Human Rights Commission and faith-based and civil society organizations. Since its establishment, the technical committee has started mapping conflict patterns and hotspots to be considered for national consultations.
On 14 December, the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, announced the launch of a national dialogue initiative under his patronage. The President stated that the process would take a three-phased approach starting with grass-roots consultations, followed by regional peace conferences and culminating in a national conference in Juba. He further said that the Transitional Government of National Unity would work closely with regional and international partners to enhance the credibility and effectiveness of the process. On 16 December, the Transitional National Legislative Assembly endorsed the national dialogue proposal.
On 19 December, Mr. Kiir appointed four advisers as patrons of the process and a 26-member National Dialogue Steering Committee comprising parliamentarians, retired military commanders and religious leaders, with the mandate to develop an agenda and timetable for the national dialogue that would not contravene the terms of the peace agreement. The Steering Committee will be assisted by five advisers and a 15-member secretariat representing seven national institutions. In a letter dated 1 March 2017 addressed to Mr. Kiir, Paride Taban, Bishop Emeritus of the Catholic Diocese of Torit, asked to be excused from his role as Co-Chair of the Steering Committee, citing his advanced age and previous retirement from official functions.
On 21 February, speaking at the opening of the second session of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly, Mr. Kiir stressed that the national dialogue, as the chief priority of the Government for 2017, was designed with flexibility and transparency to unite the people of South Sudan and consolidate peace and security. According to the President, other priority tasks for 2017 include implementation of the peace agreement, economic recovery and improved relations with regional and international partners.
Mr. Kiir’s national dialogue initiative received mixed reactions. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in Opposition, led by Riek Machar, welcomed a national dialogue process in principle but raised concerns regarding the political context and implementation modalities, in particular Mr. Kiir’s credibility to lead the process. They asserted that national dialogue must be anchored in accountability and justice through the Hybrid Court for South Sudan and be complementary to the peace agreement. The exiled leader of the National Democratic Movement, Lam Akol, argued that peace was a prerequisite for a meaningful bottom-up national dialogue and called for an inclusive national dialogue conference to be held outside the country and facilitated by a neutral entity. Other opposition leaders, including from the Democratic Change Party and the former political detainees, welcomed the initiative, but stressed the need for inclusivity. Civil society and faith-based organizations generally supported the concept of a grass-roots approach to a national dialogue, although some organizations, including the South Sudan Council of Churches, have expressed reservations over the current configuration of the Steering Committee. The voluntary civil society task force on the implementation of the peace agreement discussed the role of civil society organizations in the national dialogue initiative and agreed to consult the population and present their findings to the Steering Committee for consideration.
On 29 January, on the margins of the twenty-eighth African Union Summit, the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the United Nations held a consultative meeting and issued a joint statement expressing deep concern over the continuing spread of fighting, risk of mass atrocities and the dire humanitarian situation in South Sudan. The statement called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and an inclusive political process. The three organizations encouraged the African Union High Representative for South Sudan, Alpha Oumar Konaré, to undertake active shuttle diplomacy towards ensuring inclusivity in the national dialogue and implementation of the peace agreement, in close consultation with the Chair of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, Festus Mogae, as well as IGAD and the United Nations.
Democratic Republic of the Congo: "Critical humanitarian needs are massively outstripping our response capacity," says DR Congo Humanitarian Coordinator
Kalemie/Kinshasa, 20 March 2017: The violence that has engulfed the southeastern province of Tanganyika since July 2016 and forced over 370,000 people into displacement places it firmly among “the most urgent humanitarian hotspots in a country experiencing a worsening humanitarian situation,” the Humanitarian Coordinator in the DR Congo has stated.
The Humanitarian Coordinator, Dr Mamadou Diallo, leading a high-level delegation of UN agencies, donors and NGOs, wrapped up a three-day visit to Kalemie and Manono territories aimed at drawing much-need attention to the needs of the Tanganyika Province. These two territories, which account for almost 75 per cent of the displaced population, are the most affected by the string of violence that has ravaged the Luba and Twa communities.
In Kalemie, the delegation visited the Kalunga site, home to some 17,000 people, where NGOs are providing emergency water and health care services. However, other vital needs including shelter remain unmet. Speaking to the delegation, a displaced woman pleaded for education projects for the thousands of children living in the site, to avoid their further marginalization.
In Manono, the delegation visited the Kamala site where the delivery of assistance has been particularly difficult due to access constraints. This territory represents the cradle of the intercommunal conflict affecting the province. The delegation saw first-hand the burned, destroyed huts belonging to those who were forced to flee their community. Urgent needs will continue to grow until peaceful coexistence can be secured.
Since July 2016, the province has seen a flare-up in violence between the Luba and Twa communities, characterized by extreme levels of violence that has led to massive forced displacement, including in neighboring provinces. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that some 370,000 people have fled the cascading violence across all six territories that make up the province, in the last 9 months. The insecurity has disrupted aid operations. “The humanitarian community is called upon to address the life-threatening consequences of this lingering inter-community conflict. We are doing our utmost to respond but our effectiveness depends on unhindered access to those in need. While we continue to strengthen the humanitarian response, we look to the Congolese authorities and community leaders to urgently address the root causes of conflict and displacement,” the Humanitarian Coordinator said in Kalemie. “Unless peaceful coexistence is fully restored between the two communities, humanitarian needs will continue to spiral out of control,” he added.
An estimated USD 40 million is needed to cover all the humanitarian needs, including $20 million for the most urgent, life-threatening needs. The DR Congo Common Humanitarian Fund and the Central Emergency Response Fund have recently allocated $5 million each for the response, with the Humanitarian Fund planning an additional allocation of $2 million. “Tanganyika has become a humanitarian hotspot, but our current response capacities are being outstripped by the massive levels of critical needs. We look to our donors to help us scale up our response to match the rapidly growing needs”, Diallo concluded.
For further information, please contact:
Yvon Edoumou, Public Information Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel. +243817061213/+243970003750
Kabila's decision not to step down when his presidential mandate expired in December was followed by a wave of killings and lawlessness across the nation
Militia insurrection has spread to five provinces
Congo violence rises since Kabila overstayed mandate
Government denies army is behind mass graves
By Aaron Ross
TSHIMBULU, Democratic Republic of Congo, March 20 (Reuters) - T he increasingly brutal nature of fighting in central Congo between the army and local militia is on vivid display in the village of Tshienke, where the bodies of rebel fighters were dumped into a mass grave last month following intense clashes.
Read more on the Thomson Reuters Foundation
Les Fonds de Financement Communs Pays (CBPF) permettent aux organisations humanitaires d’apporter une assistance rapide et efficace à ceux qui en ont le plus besoin. Ils permettent aux Gouvernements et aux donateurs privés de mettre en commun leurs ressources pour répondre à des crises spécifiques, qu’il s’agisse d’une catastrophe naturelle ou d’un conflit armé.
FONCTIONNEMENT DES CBPF
Les CBPF sont établis par le Coordonnateur des Secours d'Urgence (ERC) lors d’une nouvelle crise ou bien lorsqu’une situation humanitaire existante se détériore. Ils sont gérés localement par le Coordonnateur Humanitaire (HC) en consultation avec la communauté humanitaire.
Les contributions sont collectées dans des fonds par pays et sans affectation spécifique. Elles sont ensuite allouées par un processus inclusif et transparent en appui aux priorités identifiées dans les Plans de Réponse Humanitaire. Cela garantit des allocations priorisées au niveau local par ceux qui sont le plus proches des personnes dans le besoin.
Il y a actuellement 18 CBPF actifs. Ils ont mobilisé 706 millions de dollars en 2016.
UN INVESTISSEMENT DANS L’HUMANITE
Les CBPF aident les organisations humanitaires à atteindre les personnes les plus vulnérables tout en utilisant les ressources disponibles plus efficacement:
• Les CBPF sont inclusifs. Les fonds sont accessibles à une multitude d'acteurs humanitaires, y compris aux ONG nationales qui ont souvent de meilleures connaissances des réalités locales et un accès aux zones difficiles à atteindre.
• Les CBPF sont rapides et flexibles. Ils soutiennent une réponse humanitaire agile dans des situations d'urgence fluides.
• Les CBPF sont efficaces. Ils minimisent les coûts de transaction et assurent une gestion transparente et responsable. Les organisations bénéficiaires sont soigneusement évaluées, les projets suivis, et des rapports réguliers sur les progrès réalisés sont produits.
Suite au Sommet Humanitaire Mondial de 2016, le Secrétaire Général de l’ONU a souligné le rôle crucial des CBPF et appelé les donateurs à accroître la part du financement des appels humanitaires acheminée par le biais des CBPF à 15 pourcent d’ici 2018. Cela correspond à près de 2 milliards de dollars par an.
Democratic Republic of the Congo: Cholera outbreaks in Central and West Africa: 2017 Regional Update - Week 08
Cholera Platform Central and Western Africa
The West and Central Africa Cholera Platform has been establish.ed following the absence of cross-border collaboration and the delayed response to the cholera outbreak In Sierra Leone and Guinea in 2012. The platform Is gathering the main WASH and Health actors involved in the tight against cholera in the region i ncluding but not restricted to ACF, ACTED, ALIMA, ECHO, IFRC, MSF1 OCHA, UNICEF, and WHO.
The platform is supported through regional projects piloted by UNICEF and IFRC and funded by ECHO and OFIO since 2013. Its objective is to Improve cholera control and prevention in the region through the promotion of an integrated and targeted approach known as the Shield and Sword strategy.
Shield and Sword Strategy vs Cholera
The Shield and SWord strategy was developed by UNICEF West Africa Regional Office following the pilot projects implemented In the ORC (2006) and Guinea (2009). It defined as follows ' "The Sword strategy Is an intervention in the epidemic phase, as of the confirmation of the first cases, based on advanced preparation that shortens delay in response time and an improved reactivity lor an early action In affected zones. The shield strategy is characteri·zed by sustainable preventive Water,
Sanitation and Hygiene Interventions outside of epidemic periods In the priority areas defined as being specifically at risk for cholera"'
World: IRRI Submission to the UK Government’s International Development Committee Inquiry into forced displacement and humanitarian responses in Central and East Africa
The International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) is responding to the call for information about humanitarian responses to forced displacement in Central and East Africa. Dedicated to promoting human rights in situations of conflict and displacement and enhancing the protection of vulnerable populations before, during and after conflict, IRRI works to challenge the exclusion and human rights violations that are the root causes of flight; enhancing the protection of the rights of the displaced; and promoting policy solutions enabling the conflict affected to rebuild sustainable lives and communities.
IRRI’s submission1 begins with a critique of two key failed policy responses to refugees in the region. First, the emphasis on encampment of refugees, especially in protracted situations of displacement; and second, the emphasis on repatriation as the favoured (and often only) durable solution. We believe that systemic implementation of UNHCR’s Alternatives to Camps policy would help resolve the deficiencies in both these approaches.2 We then specifically address the question of whether or not conditions for voluntary return for Somali refugees in Kenya are being met; and whether or not there are adequate arrangements for the closure of Dadaab camp. It concludes with some general statements.
A refugee crisis and a policy crisis
Conflict and displacement are inextricably linked in Central and East Africa. With the exception of Tanzania, all countries in the region have, since independence, generated large numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), and all have hosted or are currently hosting large numbers of refugees.
The existence of large numbers of displaced persons in the region is driven by the instability that leads to refugee outflows and the lack of viable solutions to displacement. With regards to the former, ongoing turmoil in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, civil war in South Sudan and the crisis in Burundi, highlight the region’s ongoing vulnerability to conflict – and, as a consequence, to displacement. Insufficient conflict mitigation mechanisms have failed to address historical drivers of conflict leading to multiple new crises. Thus, the optimism following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Deal in Sudan, and the Arusha Peace Accords in Burundi, which led to wide-scale repatriation, has now been reversed, resulting in another dramatic increase in displacement.
At the same time, these “new” emergencies dovetail with the hundreds of thousands who have remained in protracted situations of exile. Current record levels of displacement, therefore, also lie in the failure in policy responses to deal with previous crises and find solutions to exile.
Two policies that have consistently failed but are still the “go to” policies are the emphasis on encampment during exile, and the emphasis on repatriation as the favoured (and often only) “durable solution” to end exile.
Based on the flawed assumption that refugees will be temporary, the refugee camp has been the centrepiece around which much decision-making and aid has revolved. This has created inefficient and parallel systems for the delivery of services that have failed to merge with the needs of the local population; has generated insecurity; and hampered self-reliance.3 For example, almost 50% of DFID’s assistance for refugees in Kenya is still being directed to food aid, even though most of the refugees are long staying populations.
In 2014, UNHCR launched its Alternatives to Camps policy. One of its pilot projects is the development of the Kalobeyei “hybrid settlement” in Kenya. The site was designed to relieve congestion in Kakuma refugee camp and bring together an estimated 80,000 refugees with 23,000 members of the local population, to empower both communities to undertake economic activity and to link to existing services within the surrounding areas.5 This project, which encourages integration, is welcome. However, implementation has proceeded slowly, and key infrastructure such as maternal health facilities and schools are still being built with only around 21% settled there as of 31 December 2016.
In addition, it remains to be seen how this progressive plan for integration will function alongside Kenyan law, which, in contradiction to the 1951 Refugee Convention, restricts refugee movements (see Kenya’s Refugee Act (Article 25(f)) and the Security Laws (Amendment) Act 2014 (Articles 46 & 47).
While the Kalobeyei settlement represents an attempt by UNHCR to implement its Alternatives to Camps policy, the site remains essentially a camp. While IRRI would encourage the UK government to support this policy and progressive model, it is also important to ensure that its efficacy in practice is evaluated independently against its stated goals. Continued support for the initiative should be conditional on the findings of that evaluation.
Elsewhere, regional governments remain reluctant to implement alternatives to encampment. While some have paid lip-service (for instance Uganda and, more recently, Ethiopia) and some progress has been made, more often restrictions on free movement and failures to allow refugees to pursue avenues towards local integration have been blocked.8 Local integration in the context of the “local settlement” (as the government of Uganda has argued) is not local integration at all: regardless of semantics, it is still encampment. Consequently, regionally, hundreds of thousands have been left in protracted exile, maintaining a never ending crisis that has merged with influxes of new refugees.
Apart from the many benefits with regards to respecting the rights of refugees to move freely, UNHCR’s Alternatives to Camp policy enables refugees to, at least in part, support themselves through access to opportunities within local communities. With appropriate assistance, it also means their presence is seen as a benefit to local communities, who can also benefit from assistance provided to refugees. It also demonstrates some of the value of offering local integration as both a medium and long-term solution to exile and reduces pressure on governments to push for repatriation as the favoured durable solution.
Therefore IRRI encourages the UK government to support the implementation of UNHCR’s Alternatives to Camps policy. However, as above at point 10, it is important that continued support for the initiative be conditional on thorough analysis of its implementation and efficacy.
At the same time, the emphasis on repatriation as the favoured durable solution to exile has meant that the premature return of refugees has contributed to the destabilisation of countries that are emerging from conflict, as our recent research in Burundi has shown.9 Failure to reintegrate those returned from exile has been a key factor in the high levels and speed of displacement since April 2015. Thus the presence of refugees is not only a very tangible consequence of conflict, but their return can be a contributing factor in destabilisation if they are pushed back before there is sufficient stability; and if they are not given sufficient support.
None of this should overlook the fact that countries in the region have shown themselves to be incredibly generous in hosting refugees, not least when compared with other parts of the world. However, the extent to which political expediency continues to drive policy responses both nationally and internationally, ensures that responses continue to be inefficient at best and dangerous at worst. Until drivers of conflict are properly resolved and solutions are found for protracted situations of exile, the numbers of those displaced will remain high.
Are the conditions for voluntary return for Somali refugees in Kenya being met and are there adequate arrangements for the closure of Dadaab camp?
“We know Somalia is our country and we have to go back at some point but we need peace. And that means for now we need to stay.”
Experience has shown that over-emphasis on repatriation as the primary durable solution to exile encourages official repatriation programmes to be initiated before conditions are truly compatible with sustainable return. This is certainly the case in Kenya. The decision to close Dadaab was a political rather than humanitarian decision that did not include a sober assessment of the security situation in Somalia – and, therefore, adequate consideration for the protection of the returnees.
UNHCR’s proposed response to Dadaab’s closure focuses on verification of the camp population and removal of Kenyans from the camp; resettlement of vulnerable and non-Somali populations to Kakuma; and increased incentives for resettlement.11 However, IRRI has some significant concerns about the process and urges the UK government to engage with caution.
While repatriation to Somalia has been ongoing for some time (currently supported by the UK government12) and some Somalis wish to return, 86% of the refugees surveyed by Médecins Sans Frontières stated that neither they nor their family wanted to return to Somalia due to security concerns and the lack of health care and other services.13 Thus, the very concept of “voluntary return” is called into question.
As with multiple other situations in the region in which “voluntary return” has not, in practice, been voluntary (including the push-back of Burundian refugees from Tanzania14 and the ongoing pressure on Rwandan refugees across the region to return to Rwanda15), refugees are clearly coming under rhetorical and physical pressure to return to Somalia.
The financial incentives proposed by UNHCR to encourage return are also so high, raising additional questions. Refugees interviewed by IRRI in August 2016 reported they were told if they did not opt to return before 30 November 2016, they risked losing the financial support package on offer. This, combined with reports of the difficulty in accessing adequate amounts of food in Dadaab, has acted as a push factor when making the decision to return. In addition, Amnesty International’s report16 found that public statements made by the Kenyan government forced many Somalis to make the decision to repatriate. For example, Kenya’s North Eastern regional coordinator (under the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government) said, “Refugees have stayed with us for 25 years. That is enough. It was temporary…. Please go back to your country.” This pressure was acknowledged by a UNHCR officer in Dadaab, who reportedly said “[f]amilies we have interviewed and many of those who filled the repatriation forms have shown that they are returning because of threatening rhetoric by Kenyan regional security officials who recently visited the camp.”
Furthermore, refugees have insufficient information to make informed decisions about the security situation in return areas in Somalia.18 Most Somali refugees living in Dadaab left their country due to armed conflict. Even though there has been some improvement in the security situation in recent years, the armed conflict continues, and Al Shabaab remains a real threat. As one refugee who having repatriated was forced to flee again due to the insecurity stated “I regretted going to Somalia. There were people dying all the time. It is not safe. [AMISOM] whose job it is to fight Al Shabaab cannot prevent these attacks."
An additional current concern is the risk of famine in Somalia. The Famine Early Warning Network warns that severe drought and limited access to affected populations could lead to famine in 2017.20 Returning people in this context will only increase their vulnerability and that of nationwide coping mechanisms, leading to higher needs in terms of humanitarian assistance.
While UNHCR’s efforts to relocate vulnerable Somalis to Kakuma are welcome, they also raise concerns. One issue is how these individuals will be selected. IRRI’s experience shows that where screenings are not adequately explained to refugees, and where independent advice and assistance is unavailable, determinations can be skewed. If such mechanisms are employed, the UK government should consider providing assistance to efforts to provide independent support and monitoring of the procedure. For example, UNHCR indicates they will prioritise individuals who have already been selected for resettlement or non-Somalis. The non-Somali population in Dadaab includes individuals who were previously relocated from Kakuma due to security concerns. Therefore returning them to Kakuma does not represent a viable solution. In addition, concerns have been raised about the feasibility of resettlement to Kakuma given the existing large population and the continuing inflow of South Sudanese.21 Other mechanisms for continuing protection are urgently needed.
Last, given Somalia’s ongoing instability, it is crucial refugees are offered genuine alternatives. However, there appears to be no alternatives for refugees living in Dadaab who do not want to go to Somalia, and are not deemed “vulnerable”.
The UK government should engage with the Kenyan government to encourage them to reconsider their plans to close Dadaab, or at least postpone their decision; offer support to alternatives such as resettlement to third countries and/or to other camps; and encourage options for local integration leading to naturalisation.
Are the UK Government and its partners doing enough to support countries experiencing high inflows of refugees in Central and East Africa?
- The UK government has contributed significantly to addressing the refugee crisis in the region. It is the second largest donor to refugee operations in Kenya;22 and has recently increased its refugee focussed humanitarian aid.23 However, IRRI believes that this “new” funding is primarily aimed at keeping refugees in the region rather than representing a genuine attempt to share the burden. In addition, huge funding gaps remain. For example, UNHCR’s calls for funding for Somalia and South Sudan
Democratic Republic of the Congo: 7000 personnes reçoivent des articles ménagers et des kits d’hygiène en RDC !
Depuis janvier 2016, dans la zone de santé de Manono, dans la province du Tanganiyka, au sud-est de la RDC, des pluies diluviennes provoquent d’importantes inondations. 56 000 personnes habitant le territoire de Manono ont été exposées aux conséquences des catastrophes naturelles.
Entre juillet et septembre 2016, les inondations survenues ont causé d’importants dégats et pertes pour les communautés, en détruisant champs et maisons. Pour répondre à leurs besoins, ACTED, avec le soutien financier du Ministère des Affaires Étrangères du Canada, a épaulé 750 familles vulnérables par la distribution de produits de première nécessité, tels que des ustensiles de cuisine et des savons. De plus, plus de 1000 femmes et jeunes filles âgées de 15 à 45 ans ont reçu des kits d’hygiène intime et ont participé à des séances de sensibilisation sur la bonne utilisation de ces kits.
This month’s update highlights children and armed conflict concerns and provides recommendations for the protection of children in the situations of Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Mali. The update additionally provides information regarding the status of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict conclusion negotiations on the Secretary-General’s reports on the situation of children and armed conflict in Colombia and Somalia.
The Afghan National Police (ANP), including the Afghan Local Police (ALP), and three armed groups (Haqqani Network, Hezb-i-Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and Taliban forces) are listed for recruitment and use of children. All three armed groups are also listed for killing and maiming, while the Taliban is further listed for attacks on schools and/or hospitals and abduction. In March, the Council will renew UNAMA’s mandate and receive the next progress report by the Secretary-General (SG) pursuant to SCR 2274 (2016). UNAMA’s 2016 Annual Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in Afghanistan documents the highest ever number of civilian casualties in a single year since 2009 when UNAMA began systematic documentation of civilian casualties, specifically reporting 923 child deaths and injury of 2,589 others. Children comprise 31 percent of all-conflict related civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 2016, according to UNAMA’s findings. The Security Council should:
Ensure the continuation of and support for the implementation of UNAMA’s child protection mandate; and to that end, request the SG to maintain dedicated child protection capacity within UNAMA, and to continue to include information and analysis on children and armed conflict in Afghanistan in all his future reports;
Urge all parties to end indiscriminate attacks and use of weapons as prohibited under IHL, and to urgently prioritize marking and clearing of explosive remnants of war which contribute to the increase in child casualties;
Reiterate strong condemnation of attacks on education and health care facilities, including the burning and forced closure of schools and health care facilities, and the intimidation, abduction, and killing of education and medical personnel, particularly those attacks targeting girls’ education or vaccination campaigns by armed groups, including the Taliban; and specifically to this end, call upon the Government to report to the Secretary-General, on a voluntary basis, on measures taken to implement SCR 2286 (2016) related to protecting health care in conflict;
Urge the Government to transfer all children from prisons to Juvenile Rehabilitation Centers in accordance with the national and international juvenile justice standards.
KAZAKHSTAN IS THE LEAD COUNTRY ON AFGHANISTAN, AND IT ALSO CHAIRS THE 1267 ISIL AND AL-QAIDA SANCTIONS COMMITTEE AND THE 1988 TALIBAN SANCTIONS COMMITTEE.
Democratic Republic of the Congo: MONUSCO expresses serious concern over recent developments in Kananga
KINSHASA, 18 March 2017 – MONUSCO expresses grave concern over reports of renewed violence in Kananga between 14 and 17 March 2017. The Mission has received credible reports of high numbers of deaths in the context of clashes between Kamwina Nsapu militiamen and members of the Congolese security forces.
MONUSCO is concerned by the attacks of Kamwina Nsapu militiamen against State institutions and symbols, but also the disproportionate use of force by the security and defense forces and the targeting of civilians, including women and children. During the night of 14 to 15 March 2017, operations by the security forces in Kananga resulted in numerous deaths.
MONUSCO also expresses serious concern over restrictions placed on its freedom of movement by security forces in Kananga in recent days, which restrict the ability of the Mission to exercise its mandate.
“I call for the immediate cessation of violence in Kananga and the Kasai region, and denounce the use of disproportionate force”, said Maman Sambo Sidikou, Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the DRC. “I also call for an immediate halt on restrictions on the freedom of movement on MONUSCO, which impede on the ability of the Mission to discharge its full mandate in the DRC. I further call for an investigation by the appropriate authorities into events in Kananga in recent days, and that those found responsible for any human rights violations be held fully accountable.”
This brief summarizes FEWS NET’s most forward-looking analysis of projected emergency food assistance needs in FEWS NET coverage countries. The projected size of each country’s acutely food insecure population is compared to last year and the recent five-year average. Countries where external emergency food assistance needs are anticipated are identified. Projected lean season months highlighted in red indicate either an early start or an extension to the typical lean season. Additional information is provided for countries with large food insecure populations, an expectation of high severity, or where other key issues warrant additional discussion.