UNHCR begins registration of more than 100,000 Congolese refugees

News Stories, 18 January 2010

© UNHCR/B.B.Diallo
A Congolese refugee prepares vegetables in the village where she has found shelter in Republic of the Congo.

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo, January 18 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency has begun registering more than 100,000 civilians who have fled ethnic conflict in north-west Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and found shelter in neighbouring Republic of the Congo in the past three months.

Some 107,000 Congolese from DRC's Equateur province have fled across the Oubangui River into the north-eastern ROC department of Likouala since ethnic Enyele militiamen launched deadly assaults in late October on ethnic Munzayas over fishing and farming rights in the Dongo area of Equateur.

The registration exercise kicked off Saturday in Likouala's Betou district, which is hosting more than 60 per cent of the refugees. The rest are scattered in the district of Impfondo, further south in Likouala. Some 1,000 people have been registered to date.

A UNHCR spokesperson said the registration was "designed to ascertain the number of refugees and to properly identify them. We will also be profiling refugee families to determine their specific needs and cater our assistance programmes accordingly."

A team of about 50 people, comprising UNHCR staff and local authorities, is carrying out the registration on a 500-kilometre-long stretch of territory along the Oubangui.

The operation, which took several weeks to prepare, is logistically challenging as the majority of the refugees are in areas that can only be reached by boat.

The water levels are receding and UNHCR is running against time to complete the registration before the dry season starts in March and rivers become too low for navigation.

Meanwhile, the refugee agency continues to deliver emergency assistance to the widely dispersed refugees. "So far we were able to ferry 161 metric tonnes of aid material for some 50,000 refugees. This aid includes blankets, plastic sheeting for shelter, kitchen sets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, which are being handed to the most vulnerable as a matter of priority," the UNHCR spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, in the Central African Republic, where another 18,000 refugees from Equateur province have sought safety, UNHCR teams conducted a registration exercise in late December and continue to register new arrivals trickling in from the Libenge area.

Back in Equateur province, UNHCR is taking part in an inter-agency humanitarian assessment mission to identify the needs of an estimated 90,000 internally displaced people affected by the ethnic violence and tensions.

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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

Registration

The recording, verifying, and updating of information on people of concern to UNHCR so they can be protected and UNHCR can ultimately find durable solutions.

Congolese Refugees flee to Rwanda

In the first ten days of May 2012, more than 6,500 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo crossed into Rwanda, fleeing fighting between the Congolese army and renegade soldiers. UNHCR and its UN partners worked with the Rwandan government to provide the refugees with humanitarian assistance in the early stages of the crisis, and to find solutions until it is safe for them to return.

Some of the refugees walked for days before reaching the Goma-Gisenyi border crossing between Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. They came with their belongings, including mattresses, clothing, perhaps a few toys for the children. The images are from the border and from the Nkamira Transit Centre, located 22 kilometres inside Rwanda. Accommodation at Nkamira is poor: the centre can only host up to 5,400 individuals. It is only temporary shelter, but numbers continue to swell as hundreds cross the border every day.

Congolese Refugees flee to Rwanda

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.

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UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

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