February 22, 2021
U.S. Ambassador Mike Hammer, along with USAID Mission Director Paul Sabatine, and the Ambassadors from Sweden and the Netherlands, traveled this week to Yakoma, Inke camp, and Gbadolite, in Nord Ubangi province, to understand the response effort for the 92,000 refugees from Central African Republic (CAR) who have arrived in the DRC following the CAR election on December 27. During the visit, Ambassador Hammer saw first-hand the good work of the team from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – who, in partnership with DRC authorities, are providing refuge, protection, and immediate support to those fleeing the violence and unrest in CAR.
President Joe Biden has made clear that the United States cares about refugees both abroad and at home. The United States has a longstanding tradition as a leader in assistance to refugees that provides a beacon of hope for persecuted people around the world, promotes stability in regions experiencing crisis, and facilitates international collaboration to address the global refugee crisis. In light of this tradition, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “The U.S. seeks to rebuild and expand the U.S. Refugee Admissions program and other humanitarian programs so they reflect our values as a nation and are commensurate with global need.”
In DRC, the United States is proud to support the response of the DRC government and the international community to assist refugees. Over the last twelve months, the U.S., via the State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), has contributed more than $50 million to UNHCR’s work in the DRC. This funding is used to:
- Register refugees and ensure their protection;
- Provide shelter to those without any home;
- Provide cash assistance to families with no income;
- Enables access to farmland for those who can work;
- Funds education and livelihoods for both refugees and the generous host communities in DRC who welcome them as new neighbors.
The U.S., via the US Agency for International Development (USAID), has also provided $21 million towards food security and other relief efforts for refugees in DRC, with a focus on improving overall community resilience in areas that welcome refugee populations.
This funding is an extension of the U.S.-DRC Privileged Partnership for Peace and Prosperity, which focuses on working with the DRC government to ensure a secure, prosperous, healthy, and stable Congo, one that is able to welcome and sustain refugee populations in need while also ensuring that Congolese host communities receive the support they need.
Refugees are among the world’s most vulnerable people. Fleeing for their lives, many abandoned everything they own, land, family, homes, and jobs in search of safety and security. During the visit to Inke, refugees told the vistors that they are anxious to return to CAR once the situation improves. Ambassador Hammer shared, “Both the United States and DRC have a long history of helping refugees, and together, we will continue working to protect the most vulnerable alongside our international partners.”
Most refugees want to return home in safety and dignity when the situation allows. The United States will continue to provide assistance and work to ensure this outcome, with appropriate alternatives in cases where return is not appropriate. In the meantime, we salute the generosity of the DRC government and the quick work of our international partners to respond during this emergency. The United States will be on the front lines of helping refugees around the world.
The United States is the largest single provider of humanitarian assistance worldwide to people in need, including refugees, conflict victims, internally displaced persons, stateless persons, and vulnerable migrants. There are currently 21 million refugees under UNHCR’s mandate and 49 million IDPs globally. The United States provided $1.97 billion to UNHCR in 2020.