YAOUNDE, Cameroon

The UN high commissioner for refugees on Friday called on the international community to step up its support and solidarity with the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is struggling with one of the largest internally displaced populations in Africa.

During a three-day mission to the Central African country, Filippo Grandi traveled to DR Cong’s northern region bordering the Central African Republic (CAR) where according to local authorities 92,000 refugees have arrived in the past four months, following post-election violence in CAR since last December.

“In this isolated area where poor road conditions make delivering humanitarian assistance a huge challenge, local villagers have provided life-saving assistance by sharing their modest shelters and limited food with the refugees,” Grandi said.

The UN official also praised the crucial role played by Congolese communities on the border that has taken in those fleeing armed groups in CAR.

“We need greater commitment and solidarity with this country and local communities that continue to open their arms and their homes to refugees, despite having very limited resources,” he said.

Grandi was also received by President Felix Tshisekedi with whom he discussed the forced displacement challenges facing the DRC.

They agreed that protection of civilians in conflict-affected areas of the Central African country, “especially in the eastern provinces, had to be strengthened and that development interventions had to be more strategically targeted,” according to the statement.

“I thank President Tshisekedi for receiving me — we agreed that strengthening the protection of civilians in the DRC is a priority of the new government, and is indispensable to end the forced displacement of millions of Congolese, inside and outside the country,” he tweeted on Thursday.

UN figures show that there are currently 5.2 million displaced people in the DRC, more than in any country except Syria. 50% of them were displaced over the last year.

Displaced families live in crowded settlements that lack clean water, health care, and other basic services, according to the UN.

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