Central Africa and the Great Lakes

Operational information on the Central Africa and the Great Lakes subregion is presented below. A summary of this can also be downloaded in PDF format. This subregion covers the following countries:

Subregion: Central Africa and the Great Lakes


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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018

Budgets and Expenditure in Subregion Central Africa and the Great Lakes

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2017 {"categories":[2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017],"budget":[400.278583747,397.11091767,503.32381366,699.501085209,642.156147158,685.611730276],"expenditure":[177.86138431,186.81027121,236.15435243,274.23980882,292.79051134,310.58703028]} {"categories":[2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017],"p1":[253.366748687,239.84552114,307.9703963,505.440937742,458.162112674,527.971356246],"p2":[3.33793253,8.68566536,2.80964228,3.730164264,4.73713069,3.10447697],"p3":[81.6064711,55.78047991,64.77744622,54.587607553,66.33196742,62.63241923],"p4":[61.96743143,92.79925126,127.76632886,135.74237565,112.924936374,91.90347783]} {"categories":[2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017],"p1":[132.43699158,142.49521679,175.78113489,218.41039125,250.01217902,254.08618862],"p2":[1.3034486,2.14283547,1.29948582,1.06479773,1.85292683,0.79115279],"p3":[14.97260691,18.38606284,22.28936622,17.41356558,16.66261556,19.89306419],"p4":[29.14833722,23.78615611,36.7843655,37.35105426,24.26278993,35.81662468]}
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People of Concern - 2017

[["Refugees",1444034],["Refugee-like situation",31709],["Asylum-seekers",62430],["IDPs",5426857],["Returned IDPs",378316],["Returned refugees",167378],["Stateless",974],["Others of concern",175107]]
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Response in 2017

The Central Africa and Great lakes subregion continued to be characterized by new and protracted displacement in 2017. The subregion hosted close to 7,684,900 UNHCR’s people of concern in 2017. This included some 1,422,600 refugees and 59,500 asylum-seekers mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, the Republic of the Congo, Cameroon and the Central African Republic (CAR). The remaining people of concern are mainly internally displaced people in the DRC and CAR.
Displacement of civilians, both within parts of the DRC and to neighbouring countries, continued due to incessant fighting between armed groups, intercommunal conflicts and the DRC armed forces actions against militia groups. In October 2017, an Inter-Agency Standing Committee Level 3 emergency was declared for the Kasai region, South Kivu and Tanganyika provinces. In parallel, the DRC continued to receive refugee flows from Burundi, CAR and South Sudan.
Population movements remained dynamic in the Far North of Cameroon with Nigerians fleeing the Boko Haram conflict in neighbouring North-Eastern Nigeria. This led to internal displacement inside Nigeria and refugee outflows to Cameroon and other neighbouring countries. Maintaining asylum space and respect for the principle of non-refoulement continued to be of particular concern in the volatile security environment in the Far North region.
The dire crisis in the Central African Republic continued to trigger massive forced displacement, increasing pressure on resources and living conditions in host communities and neighbouring countries. The number of IDPs increased from some 411,800 in January 2017 to 688,700 at the end of December 2017. While some 463,000 Central African refugees were still hosted in neighbouring countries as at the end of 2017, only 47,700 decided to return spontaneously during the year. Intense militia activity and inter-community violence hampered humanitarian access and exposed civilians to serious protection risks.  UNHCR’s response focus remained on life-saving protection and assistance, among them the distribution of basic relief items and shelters to displaced persons. Large-scale return of IDPs and refugees could not be envisaged in light of the continuing deterioration of the situation in CAR.
In the latter half of 2017, the socio-political crisis progressively translated into insecurity and violence in the north-west and south-west regions of Cameroon resulting in outflows of Cameroonian asylum-seekers to southeastern Nigeria. By the end of 2017, some 7,200 refugees were registered by UNHCR and the Nigerian authorities.  
The United Republic of Tanzania—which, with 230,000 Burundian refugees, hosted the largest number in the region—lifted prima facie refugee status recognition for refugees and asylum-seekers from Burundi. The country called for the resumption of individual refugee status determination (RSD), sometimes leading to a restrictive approach to granting asylum or in congestion at reception centres.  While UNHCR did not promote voluntary returns to Burundi, the Office supported approximately 13,000 Burundian refugees in the United Republic of Tanzania who expressed an intention to return home.
The return of Rwandan refugees from neighbouring countries, in particular from the DRC, continued in 2017. Some 18,000 Rwandan benefitted from voluntary repatriation and it is the highest number in five years. Rwanda also launched the livelihoods strategy aimed at the economic inclusion of refugees into national systems. The country has also developed a Multi-Year Multi-Partner protection and solutions strategy with a medium to long term view of making the camps settlements.
In the Republic of the Congo, there was no improvement in the Pool department and this triggered the launch of a Humanitarian Response Plan targeting 138,000 IDPs and host communities. Police harassment and extortion are the main protection issues faced by refugees but this was partly contained due to training and sensitisation of police officials.


Operations in Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo (Republic of the), the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and the United Republic of Tanzania are presented in separate chapters. For other countries where UNHCR operates in the subregion, please see below.

Political tensions and violence continued in Gabon in 2017 after the widespread presidential post-electoral violence in 2016. UNHCR operations continued unaffected. 
Gabon hosted 845 persons of concern, including 841 refugees and four asylum-seekers.   The majority of the people of concern are living in urban areas. UNHCR continued to provide basic assistance in Libreville, the country’s capital.
Gabon also succeeded in providing a socio-economic integration programme for urban refugees.  The UNHCR Regional Representation office covering the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon continued to guarantee the voluntary repatriation of Rwandan refugees as part of the durable solutions offered in the frame of the Comprehensive Solutions Strategy.

Operational Environment and Strategy

Despite being one of the world’s richest regions in terms of natural resources, Central Africa and the Great Lakes subregion continues to be highly unstable. Even though certain countries have been relatively stable, situations within the DRC, Burundi and the Central African Republic have caused significant level of displacement throughout the subregion. In addition to the relatively recent refugee crisis in Burundi that forced close to 325,000 people to flee their country since 2015, the situation in South Sudan has added to an already complex displacement climate, triggering new arrivals to the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

UNHCR will continue to closely monitor the situation in light of upcoming elections in the DRC, as it could lead to subsequent population movements. The elections that were due to take place in November 2016 have been postponed until April 2018, causing friction amongst the majority of opposition parties. Internal displacement has been significant in the eastern part of the country and a half a million refugees have fled to neighbouring countries. By September 2016, 1.7 million people had been internally displaced in the DRC. 

In December 2013, hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee their homes as violence spread across the Central African Republic. Currently, over 450,000 Central African refugees are hosted in Cameroon, Chad, the DRC, and the Republic of Congo. Despite a relatively peaceful election in February 2016, the security situation remains volatile and over 384,000 people are still internally displaced inside the Central African Republic. 

Efforts to resolve the long-standing Rwandan refugee situation in the region are made within the framework of the Comprehensive Solutions Strategy for Rwandan Refugees. The Strategy, issued in October 2009, includes the promotion of voluntary repatriation; the pursuit of local integration and the continued international protection for those unable to return to Rwanda for protection related reasons. UNHCR’s Representative in Kinshasa, who is also acting as Regional Refugee Coordinator for the Burundi Situation, is tasked with streamlining coordination efforts between the different operations. 

Child protection activities as well as preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) remains a top priority for UNHCR in the region in 2017. Basic needs, such as health care, education for children and livelihood/self-reliance activities, will also remain priorities in 2017. Furthermore, UNHCR will continue to pursue its efforts to secure durable solution for both refugee and IDP populations. 
UNHCR will continue to lead the protection cluster for IDPs (where activated) in conducting protection monitoring, tracking and mapping spontaneous returns in main areas of return across the subregion.

Restricted humanitarian access and logistical constraints constitute major obstacles for UNHCR in the subregion. UNHCR and partners are facing difficulties in reaching the most vulnerable populations, especially in eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the Central African Republic. 

Global attention has largely shifted away from the subregion due to the multiple high-profile emergency operations worldwide. Funding constraints result in reduced operational capacity and limitations in UNHCR’s ability to fulfil its protection responsibilities. 

Response and Implementation

Operations in BurundiCameroonCentral African RepublicCongo (Republic of the), the Democratic Republic of the CongoRwanda and the United Republic of Tanzania are presented in separate chapters. For other countries where UNHCR operates in the subregion, please see below.
As of August 2016, Gabon is hosting some 910 refugees and some 1,990 asylum-seekers, from CAR, Chad, the DRC and other countries. UNHCR is supporting the Government in restructuring the refugee status determination (RSD) procedure, while continuing efforts to secure durable solutions, including voluntary repatriation. Local integration prospects are limited in Gabon, due to the high cost of a residence permit and the lengthy and expensive process of naturalization. UNHCR will continue to monitor the situation following post-electoral violence that broke out in September 2016. 

2017 Budget and Expenditure in Central Africa and the Great Lakes | USD

Operation Pillar 1
Refugee programme
Pillar 2
Stateless programme
Pillar 3
Reintegration projects
Pillar 4
IDP projects
Burundi Budget
Cameroon Budget
Central African Republic Budget
Democratic Republic of the Congo Regional Office Budget
Republic of the Congo Budget
Rwanda Budget
United Republic of Tanzania Budget
Total Budget

2017 Voluntary Contributions to Central Africa and the Great Lakes | USD

Earmarking / Donor Pillar 1
Refugee programme
Pillar 3
Reintegration projects
Pillar 4
IDP projects
Central Africa and the Great Lakes overall
Holy See 5,000000 5,000
Ireland 0001,365,188 1,365,188
Luxembourg 000523,013 523,013
Private donors in Australia 0009,312 9,312
Private donors in Canada 00012,424 12,424
Private donors in Germany 0001,262,904 1,262,904
Private donors in Italy 0002,378 2,378
Private donors in Spain 00017,496 17,496
Private donors in Sweden 0002,304 2,304
Private donors in Switzerland 0001,881 1,881
Republic of Korea 000700,000 700,000
Sweden 0002,183,416 2,183,416
Central Africa and the Great Lakes overall subtotal 5,000006,080,316 6,085,316
Belgium 00696,4290 696,429
France 000434,311 434,311
Sweden 00583,3630 583,363
UNAIDS 25,000000 25,000
United States of America 0003,000,000 3,000,000
Burundi subtotal 25,00001,279,7913,434,311 4,739,102
Canada 0001,115,242 1,115,242
Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) 968,9650731,0370 1,700,002
Denmark 500,000000 500,000
European Union 1,062,574000 1,062,574
France 625,733000 625,733
Japan 1,637,6500300,000350 1,938,000
Private donors in Spain 0001,448,046 1,448,046
Private donors in the Netherlands 1,254,950000 1,254,950
Private donors in the United States of America 7,245000 7,245
Republic of Korea 0002,000,000 2,000,000
UNAIDS 50,000000 50,000
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1,216,545000 1,216,545
United States of America 00013,800,000 13,800,000
Cameroon subtotal 7,323,66201,031,03718,363,637 26,718,336
Central African Republic
Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) 001,370,0510 1,370,051
Common Humanitarian Fund Sudan 00892,6110 892,611
France 651,466000 651,466
Germany 0002,206,617 2,206,617
Japan 697,6801,615,665270,6550 2,584,000
Luxembourg 0001,046,025 1,046,025
Private donors in Sweden 0004,439 4,439
Private donors in the United States of America 00073 73
United States of America 400,000006,500,000 6,900,000
Central African Republic subtotal 1,749,1461,615,6652,533,3179,757,154 15,655,281
Democratic Republic of the Congo Regional Office
Belgium 1,535,74501,003,6760 2,539,420
Canada 000743,494 743,494
Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) 2,495,9870851,1850 3,347,172
Common Humanitarian Fund Sudan 00896,1860 896,186
European Union 0001,119,821 1,119,821
France 000542,888 542,888
Holy See 0005,000 5,000
Japan 2,584,000000 2,584,000
Private donors in France 00047,393 47,393
Private donors in Germany 000559,910 559,910
Private donors in Italy 0001,234 1,234
Private donors in Japan 1,038,535000 1,038,535
Private donors in Spain 00079,001 79,001
Private donors in the Republic of Korea 116,242000 116,242
Private donors in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 201,782000 201,782
Private donors in the United States of America 210,23300299,575 509,808
Republic of Korea 0001,500,000 1,500,000
Spain 000171,801 171,801
Sweden 0001,106,317 1,106,317
UNAIDS 50,000000 50,000
United States of America 6,700,0000035,200,000 41,900,000
Democratic Republic of the Congo Regional Office subtotal 14,932,52302,751,04741,376,436 59,060,006
Republic of the Congo
China 001,000,0010 1,000,001
Private donors in the United States of America 7,245000 7,245
United States of America 0003,200,000 3,200,000
Republic of the Congo subtotal 7,24501,000,0013,200,000 4,207,246
African Union 100,000000 100,000
Canada 000371,747 371,747
European Union 1,119,821000 1,119,821
Germany 839,866000 839,866
Private donors in Japan 980,000000 980,000
Private donors in Qatar 1,103,445000 1,103,445
Private donors in Rwanda 1,000000 1,000
Private donors in Switzerland 000406,046 406,046
Private donors in the Netherlands 60,940000 60,940
Private donors in the United States of America 7,2450027,414 34,659
The Global Fund 2,090,890000 2,090,890
UNAIDS 138,000000 138,000
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1,561,602000 1,561,602
United States of America 993,6080010,800,000 11,793,608
Rwanda subtotal 8,996,4160011,605,207 20,601,623
United Republic of Tanzania
Canada 000892,193 892,193
Delivering as One 000840,622 840,622
Denmark 1,000,000000 1,000,000
European Union 2,239,642000 2,239,642
France 150,000000 150,000
Germany 839,866000 839,866
Ireland 600,962000 600,962
Norway 2,639,517000 2,639,517
Private donors in Japan 1,414,331155,36500 1,569,696
Private donors in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 188,039000 188,039
Private donors in the United States of America 1,157,622000 1,157,622
Republic of Korea 500,000000 500,000
Sweden 117,655000 117,655
UNAIDS 210,000000 210,000
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1,493,691000 1,493,691
United States of America 6,600,0000012,800,000 19,400,000
United Republic of Tanzania subtotal 19,151,324155,365014,532,815 33,839,504
Total 52,190,3161,771,0308,595,193108,349,875 170,906,414