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Refugees from Congo (Brazzaville) in Gabon

Briefing Notes, 13 July 1999

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Kris Janowski to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 13 July 1999, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

A joint assessment mission led by the Minister of Interior and which comprised representatives of UNHCR, WHO and the Gabonese Red Cross travelled to the south of the country (province of Nyanga) from 5 to 7 July to look into the situation of some 2,000 Congolese (Republic of Congo) refugees who have arrived in the area fleeing fighting in the Congo. At the time of the mission's presence in the region, more refugees were arriving from the Congo where fighting between Government troops and militiamen loyal to former President Pascal Lissouba has intensified in recent weeks.

The mission visited several villages where refugees have been hosted by the local population. Their health was judged fair but several cases of malnutrition were reported. Safe drinking water was also reported to be lacking in the area, forcing refugees to resort to getting water from nearby streams.

During the mission, UNHCR distributed first aid drugs brought from Libreville. UNHCR also bought food locally and distributed it to the refugees. The authorities have urged UNHCR to provide more assistance to the refugees.




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Congo's river refugees

More than 100,000 Congolese refugees have crossed the Oubangui River in search of safety in neighbouring Republic of the Congo since inter-ethnic violence erupted in their home areas late last year. They fled from Equateur province in the north-west of Democratic Republic of the Congo after Enyele militiamen launched deadly assaults in October on ethnic Munzayas over fishing and farming rights in the Dongo area. The tensions have spread to other parts of the province.

The majority of the displaced are camping in public buildings and some 100 sites along a 600-kilometre stretch of the Oubangui River, including with host communities. The massive influx is stretching the meagre resources of the impoverished and remote region. Help is urgently needed for both the refugees and the host communities.

The relief operation is logistically complex and expensive because the region can only be reached by plane or boat. However, few boats are available and most are in need of repair. Fuel is expensive and difficult to procure.

Congo's river refugees

Uganda: New Camp, New ArrivalsPlay video

Uganda: New Camp, New Arrivals

Recent fighting in eastern Congo has seen thousands of civilians flee to a new camp, Bubukwanga, in neighboring Uganda.
Refugees in Republic of CongoPlay video

Refugees in Republic of Congo

UNHCR struggles to reach isolated groups of refugees who fled inter-ethnic violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. More than 100,000 are sheltering in neighbouring Republic of Congo.
Refugees in Republic of CongoPlay video

Refugees in Republic of Congo

Tens of thousands of people have reportedly fled a wave of ethnic violence in the north-west of the embattled Democratic Republic of the Congo. The civilians have fled from Equateur province, crossing the Ubangi River and seeking shelter in Republic of the Congo.