In 2005, RefugePoint was operational in one African country – Kenya. Since that time we have expanded to 18 locations in 14 countries across the continent. Our newest efforts include projects in refugee camps and in urban settings in Rwanda, Zambia, and the Ivory Coast. RefugePoint is also preparing to expand to address the needs of South Sudanese refugee children.
In Africa’s Great Lakes region where RefugePoint has been operating since 2009, RefugePoint’s focus has been on increasing resettlement opportunities for refugees who have fled the protracted conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. While RefugePoint has worked in Burundi and Uganda, this is our first year to deploy resettlement and children protection experts to Rwanda. In November, we will be sending additional staff to assist with the resettling of 10,000 Congolese refugees from Rwanda by 2016.
Also in 2014, RefugePoint deployed staff to Zambia for the first time. Zambia, like Rwanda, has been a country of asylum for Congolese refugees. In Solwezi, Zambia, our child protection expert is interviewing refugee children to identify concerns and coordinate the provision of needed services. Without these assessments, many refugee children remain at risk indefinitely, unable to access solutions including resettlement.
In West Africa, where refugee populations are smaller and do not garner the same level of attention as the Congolese, the identification of refugees for resettlement has been virtually nonexistent. To address this gap, RefugePoint began working in the Ivory Coast to facilitate the resettlement of several hundred vulnerable refugee children from Liberia. RefugePoint also initiated efforts in Liberia to protect Ivorian refugee children (there are cross flows of refugees between the Ivory Coast and Liberia). However, due to the Ebola epidemic, RefugePoint evacuated the staff person from Liberia, but hopes he can return in early 2015. You can listen to Chris Murphy’s evacuation from Liberia here.