Congolese refugees quit the Burundian capital and head for a camp

News Stories, 4 May 2006

© UNHCR/C.-L.Grayson
Newly arrived Congolese refugees board trucks in late 2005 to be taken to refugee camps in Burundi. Several dozens of their compatriots who have struggled to get by in the capital, Bujumbura, now say they want to go to the camps as well to get more assistance.

[Note: The text of this story was edited on May 5: the number of Congolese seeking relocation was amended from "500" to "several dozen."]

BUJUMBURA, Burundi, May 4 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency is helping to move dozens of Congolese refugees who had been struggling to make ends meet in the Burundian capital, Bujumbura, to a camp in Giharo in the south-east of the country where they can get more help.

The first group of 67 refugees was transferred from the city on Wednesday. Most had fled from South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in late 2005 because of continuing violence and insecurity in the area. Unable to secure their basic needs in Bujumbura, the refugees asked to be moved to a refugee camp where they can benefit from the assistance provided by UNHCR and its partners.

Several dozen urban Congolese refugees have decided they would prefer to move from the city to camps. There are more than 18,000 Congolese refugees residing in urban areas who, although they have access to UNHCR's medical and legal assistance, are outside the loop of organised distribution of material assistance, and often are struggling to get by.

In all, there are some 30,000 Congolese refugees in Burundi. The majority fled the armed conflict in their country over the past eight years. The UN refugee agency is currently running two camps for Congolese refugees in Burundi Gasorwe camp in Muyinga province, with some 7,800 refugees, and Gihinga camp in Mwaro province, with approximately 2,500 refugees.

The camps, managed by UNHCR in cooperation with national authorities and with the support of a number of partners, provide shelter for refugees as well as food, water, primary education, vocational training, health services, firewood and sanitation. But both have now reached their full capacity, so UNHCR approached the Burundian officials to seek an alternative location for shelter. The government recently identified Giharo, in Rutana province, as the new site. UNHCR is now developing the camp and Giharo will ultimately be able to receive up to 30,000 people.

A transit centre already exists at Giharo, and the 24 Congolese families who moved there yesterday will be accommodated there temporarily. Some 50 Rwandan refugees are also at the site.

The UNHCR operation in Burundi is the third largest in Africa, after Chad and Liberia. It covers a large repatriation and reintegration programme for more than 410,000 Burundian refugees mostly in neighbouring countries as well as programmes for Congolese refugees and more than 10,000 asylum seekers from Rwanda.

By Catherine-Lune Grayson in Bujumbura, Burundi




UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

As a massive food distribution gets underway in six UNHCR-run camps for tens of thousands of internally displaced Congolese in North Kivu, the UN refugee agency continues to hand out desperately needed shelter and household items.

A four-truck UNHCR convoy carrying 33 tonnes of various aid items, including plastic sheeting, blankets, kitchen sets and jerry cans crossed Wednesday from Rwanda into Goma, the capital of the conflict-hit province in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The aid, from regional emergency stockpiles in Tanzania, was scheduled for immediate distribution. The supplies arrived in Goma as the World Food Programme (WFP), with assistance from UNHCR, began distributing food to some 135,000 displaced people in the six camps run by the refugee agency near Goma.

More than 250,000 people have been displaced since the fighting resumed in August in North Kivu. Estimates are that there are now more than 1.3 million displaced people in this province alone.

Posted on 6 November 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

Since 2006, renewed conflict and general insecurity in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo's North Kivu province has forced some 400,000 people to flee their homes – the country's worst displacement crisis since the formal end of the civil war in 2003. In total, there are now some 800,000 people displaced in the province, including those uprooted by previous conflicts.

Hope for the future was raised in January 2008 when the DRC government and rival armed factions signed a peace accord. But the situation remains tense in North Kivu and tens of thousands of people still need help. UNHCR has opened sites for internally displaced people (IDPs) and distributed assistance such as blankets, plastic sheets, soap, jerry cans, firewood and other items to the four camps in the region. Relief items have also been delivered to some of the makeshift sites that have sprung up.

UNHCR staff have been engaged in protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs and other populations at risk across North Kivu.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Posted on 28 May 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

The Nansen Refugee Award 2005

Burundian humanitarian worker Maggy Barankitse received the 2005 Nansen Refugee Award for her tireless work on behalf of children affected by war, poverty and disease. The Nansen medal was presented at a grand ceremony in Brussels by H.R.H. Princess Mathilde of Belgium and UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees Wendy Chamberlin.

Accepting the award, Barankitse said her work was inspired by one single goal: peace. "Accept your fellow man, sit down together, make this world a world of brothers and sisters," she said. "Nothing resists love, that's the message that I want to spread."

Sponsored by UNHCR corporate partner Microsoft, the ceremony and reception at Concert Noble was also attended by Belgium's Minister for Development Co-operation Armand De Decker, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel, renowned Burundian singer Khadja Nin, Congolese refugee and comedian Pie Tshibanda, and French singer and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Julien Clerc. Among others.

The Nansen Refugee Award 2005

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