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DR Congo: UK aid for refugees forced to flee

Britain will help provide health care, education, shelter and safe drinking water for 50,000 refugees in Uganda who have fled the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

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The new package of support will deliver health care, education, shelter and safe drinking water for families who have been forced to find refuge over the border.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening announced the emergency aid today while calling on other donors to step up their support immediately.

More than 55,000 refugees are estimated to have fled eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Uganda - of which almost two thirds are children.

The emergency assistance from the UK will ensure that the United Nation’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR) can continue to provide a vital lifeline of shelter and relief to refugees in western Uganda for the next three months.

Following an assessment by the UK’s own humanitarian experts in late November, Britain will help the UN Refugee Agency to provide assistance and protection to up to 50,000 people. This will include:

  • Providing temporary shelter, household items, blankets and sleeping mats for more than ten thousand refugees
  • Ensuring refugee children have access to basic primary education
  • Provide health care and 15 litres of water per day to more than ten thousand refugees who need it most.

Current resources only allow the UN to provide shelter and protection in Uganda until the end of December 2012. Britain is calling on all donors to step up their commitments immediately. Without extra funds now, many refugees could be left with no further help.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said:

Our aid will help thousands of refugees who have fled conflict to get the basic help they need to survive.

We must act now to prevent this crisis from deteriorating into a full blown emergency.

Britain is committed to finding a lasting solution to the conflict in this region. We will continue to work with Uganda, Rwanda and DRC to secure a peaceful resolution, but other donors must not stand by. It is vital that the whole international community comes together to help people to rebuild their lives and return home.

Many Congolese refugees are now living in settlements across Uganda, including the Rwamwanja camp in the Kamwenge District of the country, where more than 28,000 refugees are staying.

An estimated 10,000 refugees are staying with host families in Kisoro town. The recent fighting in eastern DRC could see more refugees heading to Uganda.

In addition to this latest package of support, the UK will provide humanitarian assistance in eastern DRC, reaching more than 130,000 internally displaced people with water, shelter and emergency education.

This new support will also vaccinate 1.2 million children against disease and provide 11,000 severely malnourished children with lifesaving treatment.

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Published 19 December 2012