Number of Congolese refugees in Republic of Congo passes 100,000 mark

News Stories, 12 January 2010

© UNHCR/B.B.Diallo
Women and children find shelter in a village in the Republic of Congo after fleeing from Equateur province.

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo, January 12 (UNHCR) More than 100,000 Congolese refugees have now crossed the Oubangui River and found refugee in the Republic of the Congo since inter-ethnic violence erupted in Equateur province late last year.

UNHCR staff said there was an urgent need for formal camps to be set up to house the more than 107,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and a further 17,000 refugees who have crossed into the Central African Republic, of whom at least 60 per cent are children.

The Congolese refugees in both countries fled from Equateur province in north-west DRC after Enyele militiamen launched deadly assaults in late October on ethnic Munzayas over fishing and farming rights in the Dongo area. The tensions have since spread to other parts of the province. The DRC army has launched an offensive against the Enyele militia.

"There is an acute need for formal refugee sites to be established in both CAR and ROC, as the majority of the DRC refugees occupy public buildings and spaces," a spokesperson for the UN refugee agency said. "This massive influx is severely stretching the meagre resources of this impoverished region, which could lead to tensions with the local community."

In the Central African Republic's Mougoumba region the refugees outnumber the locals by 200 to one, while the Likouala region of northern ROC has seen its population double to more than 200,000.

Although land has been allocated to accommodate 4,000 refugees in Republic of Congo, more space needs to be designated for refugee sites and this is being discussed with the governments of the two host countries. "Meanwhile UNHCR has sent emergency staff to support the widely dispersed refugee communities in this region," the spokesperson said.

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

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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

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

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