File: The helmet of a Nigerian soldier serving with the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur.
JOHANNESBURG - The United Nations migration agency released emergency funding in the amount of $100,000 (R1.31-million) to kick-start relief operations in Angola for the 1.1 million Congolese displaced by fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) south-central Kasa region.
UN Migration Agency Director General William Lacy Swing approved the funding from IOM’s Operational Support Income budget to cover the period until donor funding comes in.
“We continue to work with our UN, Congolese and Angolan counterparts to see whether it is possible to launch a cross-border emergency relief operation to reach southern areas of the Kasa, which until now remain inaccessible because of widespread insecurity and a poor network of roads,” said Jean-Philippe Chauzy, the UN Migration Agency’s DRC Chief of Mission.
Up to 2.4 million people have been affected by fighting between government forces and tribal militias loyal to a local customary chief who was killed in August last year.
The groups have been accused of a number of crimes and human rights abuses, including killings and abduction, recruitment of children, and targeting schools, hospitals and churches.
Thousands of Congolese have fled to neighbouring Angola to escape the violence.
The IOM mission in the DRC is preparing to position experts in its Mbuji Mayi Office in Kasa Oriental to help track and monitor displacements and population mobility, including returnees from Angola.
The mission is also planning to deploy additional specialists in shelter and camp coordination and camp management to support the nascent international humanitarian response.
“The challenges that we and other humanitarians are facing in the parts of the Kasa bordering Angola are considerable,” said Chauzy.
“Internal displacements and the return of more than 11,000 Congolese from Angola are exacerbating existing vulnerabilities, including the risks of epidemic outbreak.”
The UN agency is also working to strengthen local capacities to prevent, detect and respond to disease outbreaks and other public health occurrences along the border with Angola.