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Situational Update: UNHCR response to the emergency situation in the northern Democratic Republic of the Congo, December 2021

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Key figures

  • 221,922 Central African Refugees are currently living in the DRC

  • 5,500 refugees voluntarily repatriated towards CAR from Mole, Boyabu and Inke camps (North and South Ubangi Provinces) in 2021

  • 1,650 refugees and local community students who have benefitted of school kits in 19 schools in North Ubangi Province


As of 15 December 2021, 5,500 people (1,566 households) have been voluntarily repatriated from Mole, Boyabu and Inke camps, North and South Ubangi Provinces, in security and safety by UNHCR in collaboration with its partners.

In December 2021, UNHCR and the CNR have conducted a physical verification exercise targeting 9,092 people in out-of-camp localities of Monga and Kanzawi (Bas Uele) and in Mogoro, North Ubangi Province.

In December 2021, 5,005 refugees have benefitted from a WFP cash-for-food distribution at the Modale development hub, North Ubangi Province.

Operational Context

The declaration of a unilateral ceasefire by the CAR President, Faustin Archange Touadera, in October 2021 has brought hope for an overall improvement of the security situation in the country. For months CAR government and allied forces have conducted counter insurgency operations to regain control of areas held by armed groups, following widespread post-electoral violence in December 2020, which resulted in an influx of tens of thousands of refugees into northern DRC. By 30 June 2021, UNHCR in coordination with its government partner the National Commission for Refugees (CNR), had biometrically registered 73,645 newly arrived refugees. Statistics indicate that 27,867 individuals among these (7,701 households, representing 38% of the new arrivals) are people who had previously been registered by UNHCR as refugees and must have returned spontaneously to their country of origin before the December 2020 electoral crisis. Prior to this influx, an estimated 175,000 CAR refugees were already living in the DRC, after having fled political violence and instability in 2013, 2014 and 2017 respectively.

Out of more than 220,000 CAR refugees in the DRC, 26% live in the four camps managed by UNHCR and by the DRC government in North and South Ubangi Provinces; the overwhelming majority live on the banks of the border rivers in hard-to-reach border areas, including in Bas Uele province, often within communities with limited resources. Their living conditions are dire. They often have little or no access to clean water, sanitation facilities or food.

UNHCR and CNR are working together to implement UNHCR's Policy on Alternatives to Camps, which capitalizes on giving refugees the opportunity to become active members of the community, while contributing to the development of host communities. To this extent, several villages across the three provinces have been identified by UNHCR and its partners to serve as ‘development hubs’, where socio-economic infrastructures are being rehabilitated or constructed, and livelihoods activities planned, to foster the resilience and self-sufficiency of both refugees and host populations. The search for durable solutions continues to be a priority and has led to ongoing voluntary repatriations of refugees to parts of CAR deemed safe by UNHCR CAR and DRC country offices.