Posted by: africanpressorganization | 27 February 2015

CAR refugees are threatened by malnutrition in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo


 

CAR refugees are threatened by malnutrition in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo

 

KINSHASA, Dem. Rep. of Congo (DRC) February 27, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Thousands of refugees who have fled violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are now struggling to survive in desperate conditions in Equateur province, northeastern DRC. Life in DRC is hard for refugees and host communities alike, as food and clean water are scarce, and humanitarian assistance has so far been minimal. Initial evaluations show that levels of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) are already high.

“There is no drinkable water, no latrines, no access to healthcare. Food is scarce and the markets are empty. We are seeing rates of severe malnutrition above than the emergency threshold, which is of serious concern,” says Nathalie Gielen, field coordinator for the MSF emergency pool. “Refugees report having suffered violent attacks, kidnapping, rape, robbery and threats from armed groups on the CAR side of the border. Yet some people are so desperate for something to eat that they are choosing to go back to CAR in search of food.”

An estimated 20,000 Central Africans have fled over the Ubangi river, which separates the CAR from the DRC, to the Bili and Bosobolo health zones in the north of DRC, adding to 10,000 refugees already present in the area. The refugees have arrived with very few possessions, if any, and are heavily dependent on the local community. They live in makeshift settlements and in villages along the Ubangi river. In some places, like in the area around Sidi, refugees outnumber local people two to one and more continue to arrive. Available supplies of food and drinking water must be divided among an increasingly large population.

“Life is hard here. We don’t have our fields, or any money to buy things. Back home in CAR I had what I needed to work in the fields. But here, I have nothing,” says Anne Kabo, 73, a CAR refugee living in the DRC with her family since last May. “Sometimes I work for the locals in exchange for sorghum leaves to feed the family. We eat whatever we can every day or two. It’s mostly sorghum leaves, with no oil.”

The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) plans to relocate the refugees to a camp near Bili, 60 km south of the river, starting in late February. But moving thousands of refugees could take weeks, and in the meantime, refugees and host population alike are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

“Though many people have just arrived in this area, there are others who have been living in these conditions for months. Refugees and the host community alike are struggling to find adequate food and water, supplies of which were scarce to begin with. More humanitarian assistance is needed until a more durable solution is in place,” says Ms Gielen.

 

SOURCE 

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)


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