Assistant High Commissioner on mission to Great Lakes region

Briefing Notes, 29 January 2008

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 29 January 2008, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The head of UNHCR's global operations, Assistant High Commissioner Judy Cheng-Hopkins, is in Tanzania today on a two-week mission to the Great Lakes region. This afternoon, Cheng-Hopkins is attending a send-off ceremony marking 50,000 returns from Tanzania to the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

In total, since 2004, over 150,000 Congolese refugees have returned to the DRC, including some 60,000 in 2007 alone. In the DRC, the principal areas of return are South Kivu, Katanga and Equateur Provinces. Still, there are some 300,000 Congolese refugees in neighbouring countries. Tanzania hosts most of these people, with some 98,000 Congolese refugees accommodated in Lugufu and Nyarugusu camps in north-western part of the country.

Yesterday, Ms. Cheng-Hopkins met in Dar es Salaam with Tanzanian Prime Minister Edward Lowassa and other senior government officials. The discussions focused on the major UNHCR operations in Tanzania, namely the continuation of repatriation programmes for the remaining 98,000 Congolese and some 118,000 Burundian refugees living in five camps in north-western Tanzania. During 2007, UNHCR's operations in Tanzania helped find solutions for more than 71,000 refugees through repatriation, resettlement and naturalisation.

The discussions in Dar es Salaam also focused on concerted efforts to find comprehensive solutions for some 220,000 Burundian refugees who came to Tanzania in 1972 and live in three settlements in Tabora (Ulyankulu Settlement) and Rukwa regions (Katumba and Mishamo Settlements). This is one of the most protracted refugee situations on the African continent as well as globally. The tripartite agreement signed between Tanzania, Burundi and UNHCR late last year laid out foundations for voluntary repatriation and local integration of this specific group during 2008.

After her visit to Tanzania, the Assistant High Commissioner will proceed to Burundi, where she will visit reintegration programmes for returnees and meet with government officials and partners. Since the start of the repatriation operation to Burundi in March 2002, over 300,000 Burundian refugees have been assisted in repatriating from Tanzania to Burundi. In addition, some 76,000 refugees have returned spontaneously and also benefited from UNHCR's reconstruction and reintegration assistance in Burundi. Following Burundi, Ms. Cheng-Hopkins is scheduled to visit Nairobi and assess our programmes for tens of thousands displaced by the post-electoral violence in Kenya.




DR Congo Crisis: Urgent Appeal

Intense fighting has forced more than 64,000 Congolese to flee the country in recent months.

Donate to this crisis

Second Dialogue on Protection Challenges, December 2008

An informal discussion among stakeholders about protracted refugee situations.

Finding a Home on Ancestral Land

Somali Bantu refugees gaining citizenship in Tanzania

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

Colombia: Helena Christensen gets to know Maribeth for World Refugee Day 2015Play video

Colombia: Helena Christensen gets to know Maribeth for World Refugee Day 2015

The Danish photographer visited UNHCR's work in Colombia and met with women who show great strength and courage in one of the world's most protracted conflict-ridden hot spots.
Tanzania: Setting Sail to SafetyPlay video

Tanzania: Setting Sail to Safety

More than 60,000 Burundian refugees have arrived in Tanzania since the beginning of May. On the shores of Lake Tanganyika, hundreds board a ferry to Kigoma, Tanzania, before continuing to Nyaragusu camp.
Rwanda: Flight from BurundiPlay video

Rwanda: Flight from Burundi

In recent weeks, the number of Burundian refugees crossing into Rwanda has increased significantly. According to the Government of Rwanda, since the beginning of April, 25,004 Burundians, mostly women and children, have fled to Rwanda. Many said they had experienced intimidation and threats of violence linked to the upcoming elections.