Final voluntary repatriation of DRC refugees from the Republic of Congo

Briefing Notes, 5 August 2014

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ariane Rummery to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 5 August 2014, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Last week, a convoy carrying 81 DRC refugees living in the Republic of Congo crossed the border into the DRC, marking the end of five years in exile for the group and the final voluntary repatriation of Congolese refugees from the Republic of Congo.

This group are the last of the 119,000 DRC refugees to repatriate from the Republic of Congo with UNHCR's help since May 2012. They were among the 160,000 people who fled to neighbouring countries 140,000 in Republic of Congo and 20,000 in the Central African Republic when clashes erupted between the Munzaya and Enyele communities over traditional fishing rights in DRC's Equateur province in 2009. Since then, the refugees had been living in isolated areas along a 600-kilometre stretch of the Oubangui River, which separates Republic of Congo from the DRC.

The returning refugees left Betou in the Republic of Congo on 30 July and arrived in three reception centres run by UNHCR in Siforco, Izato and Dongo, in the north-west of DRC, where they were welcomed by Congolese authorities and local residents as well as UNHCR and its partners. Upon their arrival, UNHCR and the government provided returnees with identity documents, information on reintegration assistance, HIV/AIDS awareness training and medical help. UNHCR also provided returnees with a cash grant for travel to their final destinations and to help them settle.

Once home, returnees benefit from reintegration programs that provide health care, education, income generating activities, shelter kits, and construction of boreholes for water. There are also awareness campaigns to promote peaceful coexistence between communities, including a community radio station in the town of Dongo.

But these modest programmes may not be enough to ensure the stability of this now peaceful region. . Without the further involvement of local and national authorities, as well as the engagement of development actors UNHCR fears that this remote and underdeveloped region remains vulnerable to further conflict over scarce resources.

Between 5 May 2012 and 30 July 2014, UNHCR organized 416 voluntary repatriation convoys from the Republic of Congo to DRC's Equateur province. While 119,000 DRC refugees opted for voluntary repatriation, approximately 23,000 chose to stay in the Republic of Congo. The return of the 20,000 DRC refugees from CAR concluded in May this year. An additional 100,000 Congolese had also been displaced inside Equateur province, but most returned home when conditions improved in 2011.

More than 430,000 DRC citizens are still refugees in neighbouring countries, mainly in Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi.

DRC's Equateur province is also hosting more than 64,000 refugees from the Central African Republic. CAR refugees have been arriving in the DRC since December 2012, with new arrivals registered every week.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Geneva, Ariane Rummery on mobile +41 79 200 7617
  • In DRC, Céline Schmitt on mobile +243 81 700 94 84




UNHCR works with the country of origin and host countries to help refugees return home.

Return to Swat Valley

Thousands of displaced Pakistanis board buses and trucks to return home, but many remain in camps for fear of being displaced again.

Thousands of families displaced by violence in north-west Pakistan's Swat Valley and surrounding areas are returning home under a government-sponsored repatriation programme. Most cited positive reports about the security situation in their home areas as well as the unbearable heat in the camps as key factors behind their decision to return. At the same time, many people are not yet ready to go back home. They worry about their safety and the lack of access to basic services and food back in Swat. Others, whose homes were destroyed during the conflict, are worried about finding accommodation. UNHCR continues to monitor people's willingness to return home while advocating for returns to take place in safety and dignity. The UN refugee agency will provide support for the transport of vulnerable people wishing to return, and continue to distribute relief items to the displaced while assessing the emergency shelter needs of returnees. More than 2 million people have been displaced since early May in north-west Pakistan. Some 260,000 found shelter in camps, but the vast majority have been staying with host families or in rented homes or school buildings.

Return to Swat Valley

UNHCR resumes return operation for 43,000 Angolans in DR Congo

The UN refugee agency has resumed a voluntary repatriation programme for Angolan refugees living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Some 43,000 Angolans have said they want to go back home under a project that was suspended four years ago for various reasons. A first group of 252 Angolan civilians left the UNHCR transit centre in the western DRC town of Kimpese on November 4, 2011 They crossed the border a few hours later and were warmly welcomed by officials and locals in Mbanza Congo. In the first two weeks of the repatriation operation, more than 1,000 Angolan refugees returned home from the DRC provinces of Bas-Congo in the west and Katanga in the south. Out of some 113,000 Angolan refugees living in neighbouring countries, 80,000 are hosted by the DRC.

UNHCR resumes return operation for 43,000 Angolans in DR Congo

Tanzanian refugees return to Zanzibar

The UN refugee agency has successfully completed the voluntary repatriation of 38 Tanzanian refugees from Zanzibar who had been residing in the Somalia capital, Mogadishu, for more than a decade. The group, comprising 12 families, was flown on two special UNHCR-chartered flights from Mogadishu to Zanzibar on July 6, 2012. From there, seven families were accompanied back to their home villages on Pemba Island, while five families opted to remain and restart their lives on the main Zanzibar island of Unguja. The heads of households were young men when they left Zanzibar in January 2001, fleeing riots and violence following the October 2000 elections there. They were among 2,000 refugees who fled from the Tanzanian island of Pemba. The remainder of the Tanzanian refugee community in Mogadishu, about 70 people, will wait and see how the situation unfolds for those who went back before making a final decision on their return.

Tanzanian refugees return to Zanzibar

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