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UN office cautions on protracted humanitarian crises in Great Lakes region

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Dar es Salaam, Tanzania,  November 14 (Infosplusgabon) - Conflict is likely to remain the dominant driver of protracted humanitarian crises in Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan, with increasing regional implications, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) cautioned on Tuesday in its quarterly Regional Outlook for the Great Lakes and Beyond,


“The proliferation of non-state armed actors across conflict affected countries in the Great Lakes region has led to a geographical expansion of conflict areas within each of these countries and concern regarding the spread of conflict and armed actors across state borders,” it said.


According to the UN agency, some 10.7 million people were uprooted by the end of September 2017 and this figure is expected to rise in the months ahead.


The figure included: 6.6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) across DRC, South Sudan, CAR and Burundi; 3.5 million refugees and asylum seekers from these countries seeking protection in the wider region, including 2.1 million hosted in the Great Lakes region; and a further 600,000 refugees and asylum seekers from other regions currently hosted in the Great Lakes.


With 3.9 million, DRC hosts the largest population of IDPs in Africa, while also hosting nearly half a million refugees from other countries. Uganda currently hosts the largest number of refugees in Africa.


According to UNOCHA, significant protection concerns are expected to continue to be reported across the region, including targeted attacks against civilians and gender-based violence in CAR, DRC and South Sudan.


The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator raised the alarm in August 2017 that renewed clashes in CAR may be early warning signs of genocide.


Regarding Burundi, the UN Secretary-General has emphasised that while overt violence and armed confrontations have declined, serious human rights abuses continue to be reported.


The outlook indicated a deepening food insecurity crisis in the region, largely driven by conflict. Some 17.8 million people were severely food insecure at the end of September 2017 across DRC (7.7 million people), South Sudan (6 million), Burundi (2.6 million), CAR (1.1 million) and Uganda (400,000).


The nutrition situation is also a concern, with over 800,000 children estimated to be severely malnourished. Although several countries may see seasonal improvements in the months ahead, the overall trajectory is of increasing food insecurity, it said.


“The region is battling simultaneous outbreaks of communicable diseases - including measles, cholera and a high malaria burden - which are expected to worsen during the respective rainy seasons. As at the end of September 2017, active transmission of measles was ongoing in DRC, Uganda and South Sudan, while there were cholera outbreaks in DRC, South Sudan and Tanzania, and cholera cases reported in Burundi.


“A malaria outbreak has been formally declared in Burundi, and malaria remains the leading cause of mortality in South Sudan. Some 12.9 million people are in need of WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) assistance,” said the report.


Meanwhile, direct attacks, widespread insecurity and bureaucratic impediments are hampering aid workers’ ability to reach those most in need.


“At least 25 aid workers were killed from January to August 2017 in the countries covered in this report, including six killed in a single incident in CAR in August 2017,” UNOCHA said.


Despite rising needs, the agency said that humanitarian responses were underfunded, with over US$2.8 billion of unmet humanitarian requirements across the region at the end of September 2017 and response to new crises (particularly the Kasai crisis in the DRC and the regional response plans for refugees from DRC and Burundi) attracting inadequate funding to scale-up the response.








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