The Congo is prone to annual flooding and remains at risk due to a potential spillover of the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – threats that are compounded by the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. There are also 170,000 asylum seekers and 48,400 refugees from the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda currently in the Congo, and over 77,000 internally displaced persons in the Pool region.
UNICEF will deliver an integrated package of interventions in health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education and protection. In addition to delivering essential services for children under 5 years, school-aged children and pregnant and lactating women, UNICEF will build the capacities of service providers and caregivers to participate in the response.
UNICEF is requesting US$11.9 million to meet the humanitarian needs of at-risk people in the Congo in 2021.
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION AND NEEDS
The humanitarian situation in the Congo is characterized by the presence of asylum seekers and refugees from nearby countries; internal displacement following the 2016 presidential elections and the conflict in the Pool region; heightened risk of Ebola outbreaks along the river corridor bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an area frequently affected by floods; and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 1.2 million people – more than half of whom are children – will need humanitarian assistance in 2021.5
Displacement remains a significant challenge. The Likouala region is hosting more than 27,000 refugees from the Central African Republic and 21,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo are settled in Bétou district.7 In Likouala, access to safe water and sanitation services is limited: only 48 per cent of households have access to adequate sanitation and 64 per cent have access to protected water sources.6 The Plateaux region is hosting nearly 8,500 asylum-seekers who fled deadly intercommunal conflict in the MaiNdombe Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in December 2018.8 One third of the asylum-seekers are children in need of psychosocial support and education.9 More than 77,000 internally displaced persons (50 per cent children) have returned home following the 2018 ceasefire agreements in the Pool region.10 These populations are struggling to access basic social services.
Nearly 170,000 people were affected by the 2019 flooding due to torrential rains in Cuvette,
Likouala, Plateaux and Sangha departments.11 These regions, which are vulnerable to cholera and hosting refugees and asylum seekers, are the also at risk of a potential spillover of the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.12 In addition, nearly 74,000 children under 5 years are suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM).13