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DRC: UNICEF to step-up assistance to returnees with support of ECHO

KINSHASA, DRC, 2 June 2009 - The European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO) has provided a grant of €3,000,000 to UNICEF DRC to support on-going activities of its Programme of Expanded Assistance to Returnees (PEAR).

The contribution, contained in a new agreement recently signed between ECHO and UNICEF, will enable the PEAR programme to provide further assistance to some 615,000 displaced persons returning home to their original and host communities in eastern DRC.

With ECHO and other donor’s financial support, the PEAR programme has so far – since it started in 2006 - distributed Non-Food Item (NFI) assistance to 850,000 IDP returnees and helped provide better access to education to 162,509 children, by providing education kits and rehabilitating 444 classrooms.

The PEAR programme is operational in three provinces in eastern DRC: South Kivu, North Kivu and Orientale with international NGO partners, namely, Solidarites, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), and the Association of Voluntary Service Internationals (AVSI).

The programme has undertaken more than 214 field assessments since its inception and has become a principal source and reference for up-to-date information about the humanitarian situation in relation to the return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP)s, acting as a catalyst for other humanitarian actors to provide more long term assistance.

Although the security situation in eastern DRC remains extremely volatile, peace accords signed in the first half of 2009 between the Congolese government and various armed groups have made the return of some 1.4 million IDPs a real prospect.

The PEAR programme aims to assist the return of IDPs - a first step towards a durable solution - by providing the humanitarian community with information about areas of return, by meeting the basic household needs of the returnees, and providing the children with access to education.

For further information, please contact:
Damian Lily, UNICEF DRC
Tel: +243 81 715 2078 
Robert Lussier, UNICEF DRC
Tel: +243 81 830 5933



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