DRC - ReliefWeb News
South Sudanese arrivals in 2017, based on field reports as of 15 Jan 2017
Total South Sudanese refugees as of 15 January 2017 (pre and post Dec 2013 caseload and new arrivals)
Refugees in South Sudan 1.853 M Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in South Sudan, including 204,370 people in UNMISS Protection of Civilians site
FUNDING (as of 27 Jan 2017)
USD 649.0 M
Requested by UNHCR in 2016 for the South Sudan situation
In South Sudan, UNHCR and partners Humanitarian Development Consortium (HDC), WFP and South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC), conducted a rapid need assessment in Maban to the areas hosting IDPs after the December unrest.
In Sudan, UNHCR completed the compilation of refugee arrival figures in 2016 from relevant partners at the start of January. Over 130,000 South Sudanese refugees arrived in Sudan in 2016, of a total of 297,468 refugees arriving in the country since the start of South Sudan’s conflict in December 2013.
In Uganda, community outreach and focus group discussions with women and girls in Bidibidi indicate that violence within families is often caused by a lack of secure shelter and the vulnerability of female-headed households following alcohol abuse, contributing to incidents of rape. Some 138 outreach and awareness raising activities were conducted in all zones of Bidibidi, reaching a total of 9,494 refugees, including 4,326 youth and adolescents.
South Sudanese arrivals in 2017, based on field reports as of 31 Jan
Total South Sudanese refugees as of 31 January 2017 (pre and post Dec 2013 caseload and new arrivals)
Refugees in South Sudan
Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in South Sudan, including 223,862 people in UNMISS Protection of Civilians site
USD 781.8 M
Requested by UNHCR in 2017 for the South Sudan situation USD
Received by UNHCR as of 14 Feb 2017
The total number of South Sudanese refugees has now passed 1.5 million, with a further 1.85 million internally displaced people and 262,560 refugees inside South Sudan. With this large scale displacement, South Sudan is now Africa’s largest refugee crisis and the world’s third after Syria and Afghanistan - with less attention and chronic levels of underfunding.
The rate of arrival into Uganda has increased, with some 58,000 South Sudanese refugees crossing into the country in January. According to reports from refugees, the increased influx is partly attributable to an escalation in violence between armed forces in the areas around Kajo-Keji. Refugees report having been instructed to leave the area, skirmishes between armed groups, lootings, killing of civilians and sexual assault of women and girls.
Over 10,000 South Sudanese refugees arrived in Sudan in January. Additional influxes of refugees are anticipated into South Kordofan and White Nile, amid reports of an upsurge in armed conflict and increased displacement in Wau Shilluk and Malakal, South Sudan, near the Sudan border.
New Burundian refugees in asylum countries since April 2015 as of 31 January 2017
USD 214.5 million
Requested by UNHCR for the overall Burundi Situation in 2017
Burundi: Over 22,000 Burundians fled the country to neighbouring countries in January alone. Besides the concerning human rights environment inside Burundi, the food security has deteriorated considerably.
Tanzania: On 24 January 2017 the Government announced the lifting of the prima facie refugee recognition for Burundian refugees entering the country. The decision was officially published in the Government Gazette on 20 January 2017, meaning that all the asylum-seekers from Burundi who entered the country from 20th January 2017 should undergo Refugee Status Determination. In practice, the new procedure is not yet effective on the ground. UNHCR projects that the decision of the Government will have serious implications on the quality of refugee protection provided to Burundians fleeing to Tanzania.
Rwanda: The new durable health centers were inaugurated on 26 January in Mahama, with a capacity to provide health care to over 50,000 Burundian refugees currently living in the camp as well as new arrivals.
Democratic Republic of Congo: 627 Burundian refugees were relocated to Lusenda in January. Overcrowding represents a serious concern with all transit centers at their maximum capacity. 2,647 Burundians refugees are waiting to be transferred to the camp because of lack of shelters.
The camp population as at 31st January 2017. The figure is inclusive of Kalobeyei population.
Number of South Sudanese new arrivals registered in January 2017.
The population hosted at Kalobeyei Settlement as at 31st January 2017.
The per capita water consumption per person per in Kakuma refugee.
Requested for Kakuma operation
- Movement of new arrivals from Nadapal transit centre to Kakuma
- Monitoring of new arrivals trend
- Development of Kalobeyei settlement
- Maintenance of roads and water network
- Relocation from Dadaab
- Voluntary repatriation (VOLREP)
Trench excavation for the 13 Kilometre (Km) water pipeline from Tarach seasonal river to Kalobeyei settlement has been completed. Laying of pipes and jointing is ongoing and is expected to be complete in March 2017. Once completed, the pipeline will deliver 80m3/hr or 1,200,000Litres of water daily capable of serving 60,000 at 20 litres of water per person per day.
The UN Refugee agency, Kakuma operation, continues to truck water to over 19,000 individuals at Kalobeyei settlement. In January 2017, the per capita water consumption at Kalobeyei settlement stood at 15 litres per person per day.
UNHCR continues to receive refugees from South Sudan through the Kenya – South Sudan border at Nadapal Transit centre. In January, a total of 1,116 new arrival refugees were received at Nadapal before being transferred to Kakuma reception centre. All new arrivals received yellow fever vaccines.
On 25th January 2017, a total 15 girls from Anjelina Jolie Primary participated in a virtual art workshop facilitated by Lisa Milroy in the school’s Instant Network School (INS) hub. During the workshop, the girls were taken through drawing in relation to the surrounding environment. The workshop was successfully supported by Vodafone and UNHCR.
17th – 18th January, UNHCR Kakuma operation hosted a joint UNHCR and Swedish private sector and skills development mission. The mission from the Swedish Embassy led by Ms. Sarah Diesel toured Kakuma refugee camp and Kalobeyei settlement where they met with business people from both the refugee and host community to discuss integration and ways of improving business for both the host and refugee traders.
16th – 18th January 2017, UNHCR Kakuma operation hosted senior government officials from the Ministry of Education and United Nations International Children's Fund (Unicef). The mission led by Mr. Mogaka Ogutu the Director in charge of Policy at the ministry of education toured different schools in Kakuma refugee camp and Kalobeyei Settlement. During the mission, the Ministry of Education, Unicef, UNHCR and education implementing partners engaged in discussions on the possibility of mainstreaming refugee education into the national system.
UPDATE ON ACHIEVEMENTS
UNHCR conducts border monitoring visits to Nadapal three to four times a week to ensure that asylum seekers have unhindered access to asylum procedures and are treated humanely. Emergency medical cases are transferred to African Inland Church (AIC) Mission or Lopiding Hospital in Lokichoggio or to Kakuma’s referral hospital in Kakuma 4.
A total of 684 South Sudanese new arrivals were received and transported to Kakuma from Nadapal Transit Centre during the reporting period. New arrivals have reported insecurity, hunger, armed militia attacks and fear of a major outbreak of conflict in South Sudan as the main reasons for their flight. Cumulatively, 1,116 individuals were received at Nadapal and transported to Kakuma reception centre in the month of January 2017.
GENEVA (20 February 2017) - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has called on the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to take immediate steps to halt widespread human rights violations, including apparent summary executions, by the country’s armed forces.
“There are multiple, credible allegations of massive human rights violations in Kasai, Kasai Central, Kasai Oriental and Lomami provinces, amid a sharp deterioration in security situation there, including people being targeted by soldiers for their alleged affiliation with a local militia,” said Zeid.
“It is time to stop a blunt military response that does nothing to tackle the root causes of the conflict between the Government and local militias but instead targets civilians on the basis of their presumed links to the militias,” the High Commissioner stressed.
“In line with its international human rights obligations, the DRC Government must ensure that its security forces, including the police and the army, respect and protect life and only resort to firearms as a last resort when faced with an imminent threat to life or of serious injury,” Zeid said.
A local militia linked to a customary chief, Kamuina Nsapu, who was killed by the DRC armed forces in August 2016 has been increasingly active in Kasai Central Province, mostly attacking government buildings and churches. The militia also reportedly recruits and uses children.
Horrific video footage emerged over the weekend apparently showing FARDC soldiers shooting repeatedly and without warning at men and women, who purportedly belonged to the Kamiuna Nsapu militia, in Muenza Nsapu village. The alleged troops fired at point blank range at unarmed victims as they lay bleeding on the ground.
The UN peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, is not in a position to verify the origin and authenticity of the video. However, the DRC Government spokesperson and Minister of Communication Lambert Mende has stated that FARDC officers are under judicial investigation for their behavior during recent fighting in the village.
“The DRC authorities must pursue an independent, impartial, prompt, effective and transparent investigation to shed light on what has been happening and to ensure those responsible are held fully to account for what appears to be use of excessive and disproportionate force, and, in some cases, deadly force,” the High Commissioner stressed.
The UN Joint Human Rights Office (MONUSCO/OHCHR) has been monitoring the Kamuina Nsapu situation closely over several months and has documented a recent flare-up in violence in Kasai Central Province. The Office (UNJHRO) received reports that some 50 people were killed by troops between 6 and 8 February, and a further 101 people were reported killed in confrontations with soldiers between 9 and 13 February. Overall, the UNJHRO has documented the killings of more than 280 individuals since July 2016 in the context of this violence.
The UNJHRO is liaising closely with the judicial authorities, including through sharing the findings of the different missions deployed in the area, to ensure that investigations are opened into reported violations by the FARDC and the militias.
“The DRC has long been afflicted by serious violence but amid a worrying escalation of violence in provinces considered relatively calm, I call again on the Government to redouble its efforts to tackle impunity that feeds further violence and human rights violations,” said the High Commissioner.
“I urge the authorities to put into place a comprehensive peace plan based on dialogue, including finding durable solutions to conflicts with customary chiefs,” Zeid said.
The High Commissioner called on the Human Rights Council and the international community to monitor the security situation in the DRC, including any progress made by the authorities in investigating, prosecuting and punishing these crimes.
For more information and media requests, please contact Liz Throssell (141 22 917 9466 /firstname.lastname@example.org)
Democratic Republic of the Congo: Democratic Republic of the Congo: Floods in Gemena - DREF Operations Update n° 1, Operation n° MDRCD019
Description of the disaster
Since the beginning of the month of November 2016, rains and winds have hit the town of Gemena, headquarters of the province of Sud-Ubangi. Gemena town is located 3 hours by air (979 Km) from the town of Kinshasa with a total population of 350,511 people (source: Provincial Mayor).
On 9 November 2016, rain and violent winds intensified, causing extensive floods in the Gemena neighbourhoods located on the banks of rivers Mombonga, Sukia and Labo.
The impact of the rains and violent winds caused flash flooding, leaving seven people wounded. These people received first aid and were evacuated to the nearest health centres. A rapid evaluation by the National Society noted that 105 houses were destroyed: 53 of these completely and 52 partially, while the balance of affected families, 173 families, lost their household possessions. Four wells (out of seven) in Gemena town were contaminated with dirty rainwater and 200 household latrines, half of those available, were flooded or entirely swept away. The Gemena region is already affected by cholera (source: Direction of Disease Control, DRC Government). Assessment reports indicate that health facilities have not been affected, however, the human resource capacities are not sufficient and the quality of facilities are lacking. There is a high risk of a public health disease outbreak due to the proliferation of vector and water-borne diseases. In addition, there are concerns about the prevailing access to drinking water, sanitation, and other resources required for personal hygiene.
The flood-affected communities are principally engaged in subsistence agriculture. Most of the people affected by the flood currently are staying either with host families and friends or close to their destroyed or damaged houses. Families are sharing resources and food rations with flood-affected families, thereby stretching their modest resources. In addition, due to contamination of the local water source, primarily women and girls now trek for one kilometre to the nearest water source.
The resettlement of affected families is a high priority as overcrowded shelters/accommodation leads to risk of disease proliferation related to the lack of drinking water and insufficient sanitation infrastructure.
This Operations Update is requesting for a timeframe extension by an additional one month (New end date: 23 March 2017). This situation is due to a number of reasons including the delay in the signing of the Grant Agreement, the security situation in the DRC, which was not as favourable first for the arrival of the Regional Disaster Response Team (RDRT) on the ground and for the launch of activities. Moreover, this period coincided with the end-of-year holiday during which services were at a reduced rate with minimum service both for the National Society and for the IFRC team in the DRC, which also had to provide logistics support in connection with the procurement and delivery of items from Kinshasa to Gemena and also for local procurements in Gemena. It should also be noted that the repeated postponement of flights from Kinshasa to Gemena did not help matters, especially as these flights are only once a week.
The major donors and partners of the DREF include the Red Cross Societies and governments of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the USA, as well as DG ECHO, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) the Medtronic and Zurich Foundations and other corporate and private donors. The IFRC, on behalf of the Red Cross Society of Democratic Republic of Congo would like to extend many thanks to all partners for their generous contributions.
14,162 Identified unaccompanied Minors and Separated Children
86 Households provided with cash grants
1,288,598 NFIs distributed
1,671 Shelters distributed
Population of Concern
Total of people of concern 496,420
USD 214,400,000 requested
6289 Kenyan nationals who in the past registered as refugees, presented themselves to the GOK vetting process through the office of the Deputy County Commissioner (DCC). In addition about 200 refugees who previously applied for/ obtained Kenan identity cards, presented themselves to the GOK for the same vetting process.
5,052 returnees were facilitated to voluntarily return to Somalia by road convoys to Kismayo and Baidoa areas from Dadaab. As of 31st January 2017, about 44,366 Somali refugees had been facilitated to voluntarily rerun from the Dadaab camps.
During the cross border meeting the impact of drought on return and reintegration, peace building initiatives, and provision of country of origin information as well as monitoring returnees with specific needs were discussed.
A total of 455 families comprising of 1,468 non-Somali refugees were relocated from Dadaab to Kalobeyei in January 2017. The refugees were airlifted to Kakuma before being settled in Kalobeyei. Upon arrival, the relocates are provided with Shelter and NFIs.
For the coming 120 days all departures to the US have been cancelled and new cases can no longer be submitted. The cases currently in the pipeline will be put on hold, but will not be cancelled. The resettlement unit will focus on the ending caseload, ensuring that once/if the green light is given these cases will be ready for out-processing. The Resettlement Service in HQ is advocating with other resettlement countries to take over the cases pending with the US.
Democratic Republic of the Congo: RDC m-Kengela Bulletin d’information sur les prix des produits alimentaires de base, no 10: Janvier 2017
Bulletin d’information sur les prix des produits alimentaires de base
La farine de maïs est le produit qui a connu la plus grande hausse (26%) en janvier 2017. Les territoires du Sud-est du pays ont été particulièrement affectés du fait de la pénurie de ce produit aggravée par la maladie des chenilles invasives qui a décimé plusieurs champs de maïs. Le sel et le sucre ont connu également des hausses de l’ordre de 13%.
Quoique le coût moyen de la main d’œuvre agricole ait augmenté de 18% par rapport au mois de décembre 2016, il ne permet de se procurer que 0,87 panier alimentaire à base de maïs et 1,40 panier alimentaire à base de manioc. En effet les paniers alimentaires à base de maïs et de manioc ont respectivement augmenté de 14 et 23%.
Globalement le pouvoir d’achat des travailleurs agricoles s’est considérablement dégradé depuis mai 2016.
Les enfants face aux conflits armés en RDC
Le Fonds des Nations pour l’Enfance exprime sa très forte préoccupation concernant l’augmentation de l’utilisation des enfants par les milices opérant dans les provinces du Kasaï, Kasaï central, Kasaï oriental et au Tanganyika, et ses conséquences dramatiques pour l’intégrité physique et psychologique des enfants et leur scolarité. L’UNICEF appelle l’ensemble de ces milices pour qu’elles cessent immédiatement cette pratique. L’UNICEF appelle également les Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) à un usage strictement nécessaire et proportionné de la force, les enfants enrôlés par ces milices étant souvent en première ligne et donc directement exposés et majoritairement victimes des affrontements opposant les milices aux Forces Armées.
Selon le Représentant de l’UNICEF en RDC, Pascal Villeneuve; « cette interdiction, inscrite dans la Constitution de la RDC, découle d’instruments internationaux ratifiés par le pays, notamment, la Convention relative aux Droits de l’Enfant, le Protocole facultatif concernant l’Implication d’Enfants dans les Conflits Armés, ainsi que le Statut de Rome qui stipule que l’utilisation d’enfants de moins de 15 ans est constitutif de crime de guerre, passible de poursuites devant la Cour Pénale Internationale ».
Des instruments pour protéger l’enfant en RDC
En vertu de la Loi de 2009 portant protection de l’enfant, il incombe en premier lieu à l’Etat de garantir la protection, l’éducation et la fourniture de soins nécessaires aux enfants dans les conflits armés, les tensions et troubles civils. Les forces de sécurité sont tenues à un usage strictement nécessaire et proportionné de la force. Les tribunaux pour enfants, seuls compétents pour décider de la détention d’un mineur, doivent s’assurer que tout enfant privé de liberté est traité avec humanité en tenant compte des besoins des personnes de son âge.
Le 28 juillet 2016, la RDC signait la Déclaration d’Oslo sur la Sécurité dans les Ecoles. En endossant cette Déclaration, la RDC s’engageait à promouvoir et protéger le droit à l’éducation dans les situations de conflit armé. Cet engagement est d’autant plus d’actualité que plusieurs écoles ont été occupées ou détruites, les enseignants menacés et de nombreux enfants privés d’éducation dans les zones affectées par ces troubles.
L’école est un espace privilégié d’apprentissage, de socialisation, de protection et de construction de la citoyenneté. L’école donne aux enfants un cadre de normalité dans des périodes troubles et l’éducation constitue un espoir pour l’avenir de chaque enfant. Par son action éducatrice, l’école porte en elle les ferments de la fraternité, du dialogue et de la réconciliation sociale.
La protection des enfants est l’affaire de toutes et de tous. La place des enfants est auprès de leurs familles et à l’école, dans un environnement sûr les préservant de toute forme de violence et d’exploitation et leur permettant de développer leur plein potentiel.
United Republic of Tanzania: Refugee Situation in Northwest Tanzania - Statistical Report (Sunday, 19 February 2017)
Madagascar: SADC Climate Services Centre - Update Outlook for February - March - April 2017 Issue no. 5 (17 February 2017)
NOVEMBER 2016 – JANUARY 2017 RAINFALL
The southern half of conti-nental SADC region has re-ceived normal to above-normal rainfall in the current rainfall season.
The northern and eastern parts of contiguous SADC are still under normal to below-normal rainfall conditions.
Above-normal rainfall was experienced over Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, south Zambia, Zimbabwe, northern South Africa, central and southern Mozambique and Swaziland.
Below-normal rainfall conditions dominated Tanza-nia, northern Angola, north-ern half of DRC, north Mozambique and the Island State of Madagascar.
FMA 2017 RAINFALL OUTLOOK SUMMARY
For the period February to April 2017, there is a high likelihood of:
Above-normal rainfall over Zimbabwe, most of Botswana, south of Mozambique and northern South Africa;
Normal to above-normal rainfall across continue in the bulk of continental SADC.
Normal to below -normal rainfall in the northern parts of the region.
Democratic Republic of the Congo: Bas-Uélé : la Coordination Provinciale Lèpre-Tuberculose en construction à Buta
Buta, le 19 février 2017 (caritasdev.cd) : Comme la Tshuapa, le Nord-Ubangi, la Lomami, et prochainement le Sud-Ubangi, le Bas-Uélé sera bientôt doté d’une Coordination Provinciale Lèpre-Tuberculose (CPLT). Au nom de son Gouverneur en mission, le Ministre provincial de la Santé du Bas-Uélé, Dr Floribert TEPAGE Tedende, a posé vendredi à Buta (ville située à 325 km de Kisangani) la première pierre, ordonnant ainsi le début des travaux de construction de cette CPLT.
Ils sont exécutés par l’entreprise CICO Construction sur la concession du Ministère provincial de la Santé, pour une durée de six mois.
Ces travaux sont financés par le Fonds Mondial, dans le cadre du Nouveau Modèle de Financement (NMF), et dont Caritas Congo Asbl est Récipiendaire Principal aux côtés du Ministère de la Santé.
Assurer une bonne prise en charge des malades tuberculeux
La construction de ce bâtiment permettra, non seulement au Personnel de la Coordination Provinciale de travailler dans de bonnes conditions, mais aussi et surtout d’assurer une bonne prise en charge des malades tuberculeux. En fait, ce bâtiment comptera dix locaux. Il s’agit notamment du dépôt des médicaments ; d’une salle de réunion ; du bureau du pharmacien ; du bureau du Superviseur de tous les labos pour la tuberculose ; des bureaux de deux autres Superviseurs (Lèpre et Kiné) ; de la Comptabilité ; de la Caisse ; du bureau du Logisticien ; du bureau du Médecin-Coordonnateur Provincial (MCP) et son secrétariat. Un hall d’accueil et un long couloir sont également prévus pour départager les locaux. Il est possible d’ajouter un laboratoire microscopique avec trois compartiments si le budget le permet.
C’est ce qu’ont dit tour à tour le Chef de la Division Provinciale de la Santé (Dr Musa Kiyele), le Chargé des Infrastructures de Caritas Congo Asbl (Ir Alidor Bangu), le Directeur Adjoint du Programme National de Lutte contre la Tuberculose (Dr Joseph Bengeya) et le Ministre provincial de la Santé, à travers une cérémonie sobre. Celle-ci a été rehaussée également de la présence du Médecin Inspecteur Provincial, d’autres délégués de Caritas et du personnel de l’entreprise CIC0 Construction conduit par son Directeur Technique, Ir Guylain Kassai. Les intervenants n’ont pas manqué de rendre hommage au Chef de l’Etat Joseph Kabila pour avoir permis le financement de ces travaux par le Fonds Mondial.
Un appui important pour la nouvelle province
Il sied de souligner que le Bas-Uélé est une nouvelle province, issue de l’ex-Province Orientale. Il souffre encore d’un manque criant de bâtiments publics pour abriter ses principaux Services. C’est donc avec joie que les Autorités provinciales saluent cette acquisition pour laquelle elles ont remercié le Chef de l’Etat et son Gouvernement, le Fonds Mondial, la Caritas Congo Asbl et le PNLT.
Pour rappel, c’est mercredi 23 septembre 2015 que le Chef de Division Unique de la nouvelle province du Bas-Uélé avait présidé une rencontre sur le choix du site devant abriter sa CPLT. Le site choisi avait été un terrain dans la concession du Ministère Provinciale de la Santé, abritant les bureaux de la DPS. La délégation mixte Caritas-PNLT avait obtenu à cette occasion un avis officiel favorable.
Guy-Marin Kamandji (Envoyé Spécial)
Author Ole Tangen Jr (AFP)
An estimated 25 people, mostly Hutus, have been hacked to death with machetes by militiamen from the Nande ethnic group in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. They were reportedly beheaded by the attackers.
Local officials and activists are reporting that there has been a massacre of Hutu civilians in the village of Kyaghala in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The civilians were attacked, and many beheaded, by militiamen from the Nande ethnic group.
"In total 25 people were killed, decapitated by machete by the Mai-Mai Mazembe in and around the village of Kyaghala," Francis Bakundakabo, the local representative of the governor of North Kivu province, told AFP.
The Mai-Mai are a so-called "self-defense" militia composed of members of DRC's Nande, Hunde and Kobo communities. They stand in opposition to rivals from the Nyaturu group, which also represents ethnic Hutus.
"All of these people were Hutu civilians," said Bakundakabo, adding that the killings took place between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Saturday.
Hope Kubuya, a local activist who verified the attack, said 24 of the victims had been killed with machetes and one woman was shot dead.
"This raid by the Mai-Mai Mazembe in the Hutu village will enflame the interethnic conflict in the region," he added.
The area around Kyaghala is majority Hutu. The last major attack occurred in December, when 35 civilians were killed in clashes between the two groups.
Tension between the Nande and Hutu communities has escalated over the past year, with militia groups attacking villages on both sides. The province of North Kivu, like much of eastern DRC, has been riven by conflict for more than two decades.
Saturday, 18 February 2017 13:35 GMT
Congolese forces have been battling an uprising by militia in the country's central Kasai provinces
KINSHASA, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo's government said on Saturday it was investigating a video that appears to show Congolese troops shooting dead a group of apparent militia members armed with slingshots and wooden batons.
Read more on the Thomson Reuters Foundation
Democratic Republic of the Congo: The HIV/AIDS Section of MONUSCO leads in the promotion of activities that connect shifting attitudes to HIV prevention among the youths in Goma
Goma – 14 February, 2017 – These activities were taking place at the heart of the 2017 edition of the Amani Peace Festival that ended recently in the North Kivu Provincial capital of Goma, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The crowd-pulling event opened a door for MONUSCO to intensify HIV sensitization and to encourage activities that could bring about behaviour change among the youths. Preaching peace, tolerance, and unity through songs, theatre, round table conferences, and other unifying activities, the HIV/AIDS Section of MONUSCO also took advantage of this event to sensitize thousands of youths on how to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections as an integral part of peace and stabilization in the DRC.
The sensitization of the youths on HIV in Goma is also a very challenging task. The efforts made so far by some stakeholders involved in the fight against HIV seem to bear little fruits as a significant portion of the youths is still not aware of HIV prevention. Many of the youths interviewed at the Peace Festival said that they were not receiving adequate information on HIV and AIDS. Many others were not even aware of how to protect themselves from HIV while others had to get closer to people talking openly about HIV and AIDS for the first time during the HIV sensitization at the Peace Festival. However, at the event, the HIV/AIDS Section intensified education through information sharing in order to help save lives by improving knowledge of HIV and AIDS among the youths.
“HIV is one of the most urgent concerns facing the Congolese youth today. There is need to do some urgent activities on HIV education because our young people are at risk and vulnerable,” says one parent at the Peace Festival. “The HIV epidemic in this country is having a new face because of the high ignorance shown so far by the young people on this issue,” he reveals.
While thanking the HIV/AIDS Section for taking the initiative to sensitize the youths during the three-day Peace Festival, he suggested that there should be immediate and comprehensive interventions to address the epidemic. He said that if other stakeholders could join the HIV/AIDS Section of MONUSCO to help in empowering the youths with the right information to prevent the spread of the virus, it will be a very good gesture.
“We know very well that unprotected sex is the main cause of HIV. We have to enable the youth to make responsible decisions - abstaining from sex or using a condom,” says another parent. “HIV is no longer a secret and sexually active young people should know their HIV status as a major part of HIV prevention. The earlier they do so, the earlier they can seek care, support, and treatment, to improve quality of life,” she suggests.
She also said that it is very important to remove the stigma against HIV and AIDS, because it is one of the reasons why the virus has continued to spread as the youths are discouraged from getting tested due to fear of being discriminated against. “The issues of HIV and AIDS are still being discussed in secrets in most households in this country. This explains why many young people do not understand this problem and are not taking it serious,” she reveals. “The question on stigma and discrimination related to HIV is also blocking the way to early HIV testing. People living with HIV are still victims of discrimination in most communities,” she concludes.
At the event, the HIV/AIDS Section saw the need for a more proactive approach in countering new HIV infections among the youths. They presented posters, flyers, booklets - creating contacts to encourage people to undergo testing as one of the major ways to prevent the spread of HIV. Voluntary confidential counselling and testing, which is one of the important aspects in avoiding further spread of the virus, was also rendered to people by UNAIDS.
According to some of the young people including Janet who is a level one student in the University of Goma - she has little knowledge about HIV and AIDS because she has not had any opportunity of attending sensitization activities on HIV. “I do not have proper knowledge of HIV or AIDS. I have not heard many people talk about it, but I don’t have any good information on this issue,” she says. “I hope that after reading these information items you have given to me I will be able to understand more on this subject. Truly I don’t know more about HIV and AIDS,” she confirms.
It is necessary to recall that the HIV/AIDS Section of MONUSCO is promoting early HIV testing, fighting stigma and discrimination related to HIV as an integral part of HIV prevention. This provides a crucial link between people living with HIV and the treatment they need to survive - as well as creating a wide range of benefits for others and for themselves. However, all stakeholders involved in the fight against HIV must work together with the Congolese government to help ensure access to effective HIV testing, treatment and care that will save lives and prevent further HIV infections across all communities of the DRC.
By Joseph Tabung Banah