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Assistance to Congolese Refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the Likouala Province of the Republic of the Congo

This Operation has been modified as per Budget Revision 7 (see below).

Tribal fighting in the Equateur province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) led thousands of refugees to seek asylum in five districts of the Likouala province of the Republic of the Congo (“the Congo”) from late-October 2009. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Government estimate the number of refugees at 115,100. 

At the request of the Government of the Republic of the Congo, WFP launched its emergency operations in November 2009 to provide food assistance. The emergency operation “Food Assistance to Congolese Displaced in Likouala Province”  (200095) was extended until February 2011 to enable a transition to this protracted relief and recovery operation (PRRO). 

Since fighting stopped and a tripartite agreement was signed in June 2010 between UNHCR and the governments of the Congo and the DRC, opportunities for a gradual and voluntary repatriation have been explored. According to UNHCR, 80 percent of the refugees have expressed the desire to return to their home country if the security situation improves.  

Likouala province is the poorest and currently the most food-insecure region of the Congo. With 129,000 residents living in the affected districts of Likouala province, the refugee influx has increased the population by 89 percent.  

A UNHCR/WFP/Government joint assessment mission (JAM) undertaken in October 2010 showed that interruption of trade between Equateur and Likouala provinces affected refugees’and host communities’ food security. The JAM reports 75 percent of Likouala refugee households being food-insecure, which is indicated by their inadequate food consumption. Access to land for refugees remains limited as arable land is scarce. Coping mechanisms depend mainly on seasonal fishing, causal labour and petty trade. The refugees’ agricultural production and purchasing capacity were insufficient to meet their food consumption needs but food aid and social support from the host population helped to ensure a relatively stable nutritional situation in 2010. However, between an April 2010 emergency food security assessment and the October 2010 JAM, acute malnutrition among children from 6-59 months increased slightly from 4 to 5 percent. The JAM recommended the continuation of food aid to refugees to maintain their food intake and limit the use of negative coping strategies.   

The objective of this PRRO is to protect the nutritional and food security status of DRC refugees, particularly women and children, through food assistance. General food distributions  will be provided to refugees staying in Likouala province and to those repatriating to the DRC, using a partial ration that will complement households’ own food sources.  

This operation will address WFP Strategic Objective 1 (“save lives and protect livelihoods in emergencies”) and Millennium Development Goal 1 (“eradicate extreme poverty and hunger”). The success of assistance to refugees will depend on continued progress in resolving the protracted conflict in DRC and ensuring humanitarian presence and assistance in the Equateur province to encourage returns. There are potential risks of new influxes of refugees in the future, given the presidential and parliamentary elections planned for DRC in late-2011