Refugees continue to arrive in the Congo

An estimated 25,000 civilians sheltering in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have received emergency supplies via a UNHCR airlift, but more refugees continue to arrive.

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GENEVA, July 30 (UNHCR) - The U.N. Refugee Agency has completed the first phase of an airlift of emergency supplies to thousands of refugees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but Monday reported a steady stream of new arrivals from the neighbouring Central African Republic.

More than 20 tons of blankets, plastic sheeting, mats and jerry cans were airlifted by helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft to the north east Congo town of Zongo in the last few days and will be distributed to 1,000 families sheltering in schools, churches and other public buildings.

As many as 25,000 civilians initially fled the Central African Republic capital of Bangui following an abortive coup attempt there in late May and took refuge in Zongo and a string of nearby villages.

Reports from the region said up to 50 new refugees were arriving daily, alleging a spate of further arrests and disappearances of people in the Bangui area, especially from the Yakoma ethnic group. Former Army Chief of Staff André Kolingba, who has been accused of masterminding the failed coup attempt, belongs to that group.

UNHCR has an additional 60 tons of supplies stockpiled in the region to help the refugees, but because airlifting materials is extremely expensive - it has already cost $50,000 - the agency has begun to search for alternative means to deliver the materials.