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U.N. seeks $621M to help Democratic Republic of Congo asylum seekers

Refugee women from the Democratic Republic of the Congo walk towards the market in Mantapala Settlement, Zambia. Photo courtesy of Will Swanson/UNHCR
Refugee women from the Democratic Republic of the Congo walk towards the market in Mantapala Settlement, Zambia. Photo courtesy of Will Swanson/UNHCR

March 7 (UPI) -- The United Nations' refugee agency has launched an appeal for $621 million to assist nearly 1 million people from the Democratic Republic of Congo seeking asylum in neighboring countries.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees announced the plan Friday to seek funding for 66 organizations that provide protection and humanitarian assistance to the migrants and their host nations.

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"The situation in DRC remains one of the most complex and long-standing humanitarian crises in Africa," the UNHCR said in a statement. "DRC refugees are seeking safety in locations where hosting communities are already under pressure with meagre resources."

The United Nations said there's been a deterioration in humanitarian conditions and security in the DRC despite a peaceful transition of power in 2018. There's been ongoing armed conflict and inter-communal violence leading to an exodus of Congolese.

"Recurrent violent attacks have resulted in tragic loss of human lives and destruction of communities," the agency said. "Eastern parts of the country are witnessing worsening security situations with rampant targeting of civilians while frequent violations of human rights continue to be perpetrated by various armed actors."

In addition to nearly 1 million Congolese people seeking refuge outside the country, there are more than 5 million internally displaced people. Two million have been displaced in North and South Kivu within the past 18 months.

The UNHRC said Uganda has the highest number of Congolese migrants at 400,000, while Burundi hosts 84,000, Rwanda and Tanzania each have 75,000, and Zambia, Angola and the Republic of Congo have smaller numbers.

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