Refugees from Congo (Brazzaville) in Gabon

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Kris Janowski to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing 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.