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UNHCR protests to Zambia about deportation of 36 Congolese refugees

News Stories, 13 April 2010

© UNHCR/N.Jayasinghe
Congolese refugees being interviewed at a camp in Zambia.

GENEVA, April 13 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Tuesday protested to the Zambian government over the recent expulsions of 36 refugees to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. UNHCR spokesperson, Melissa Fleming, told journalists in Geneva that the agency had "expressed alarm at the developments" in a note verbale sent to the Zambian authorities.

All of the Congolese refugees had been living in the Meheba settlement in the country's north-west. The refugees, who were returned at the Kasumbalesa border point, were given no explanation for their deportation or the possibility of challenging the decision under Zambian law.

The first six people returned were sent back in February and included a pregnant woman. The latest group, comprising 30 people, was sent back over the weekend of April 3-4 leaving spouses and children at Meheba.

The deportations follow a security and police operation in Meheba in late February, which brought an end to a protracted demonstration by refugees. During the operation, a refugee woman was shot and killed, several others were injured and some 150 people were arrested.

"UNHCR fully shares the government of the Republic of Zambia's interest in ensuring security and order in the refugee camps and settlements. Refugees and asylum-seekers, moreover, are bound to conform to the laws and regulations of the Republic of Zambia," Fleming said. "The consequence of their failure to do so, however, should be prosecution under national laws and not forcible expulsion to their country of origin," she added.

Zambia has for more than 30 years provided asylum to tens of thousands of refugees who have found sanctuary on its territory after fleeing war and civil strife. The 15,000 people at the Meheba settlement come from Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda. In total, Zambia hosts some 57,000 refugees.

Fleming said UNHCR urged the Zambian government to cease the expulsion of refugees and asylum-seekers to the DRC and to uphold its refugee protection responsibilities under international law.





Advocacy is a key element in UNHCR activities to protect people of concern.

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

Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run

Fighting rages on in various parts of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with seemingly no end in sight for hundreds of thousands of Congolese forced to flee violence and instability over the past two years. The ebb and flow of conflict has left many people constantly on the move, while many families have been separated. At least 1 million people are displaced in North Kivu, the hardest hit province. After years of conflict, more than 1,000 people still die every day - mostly of hunger and treatable diseases. In some areas, two out of three women have been raped. Abductions persist and children are forcefully recruited to fight. Outbreaks of cholera and other diseases have increased as the situation deteriorates and humanitarian agencies struggle to respond to the needs of the displaced.

When the displacement crisis worsened in North Kivu in 2007, the UN refugee agency sent emergency teams to the area and set up operations in several camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). Assistance efforts have also included registering displaced people and distributing non-food aid. UNHCR carries out protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs in North and South Kivu.

Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run

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