Refugee ID cards being distributed across DR Congo, improving rights

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR and the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are today launching a vast distribution of refugee identity cards to the country's 173,000 refugees and aimed at strengthening their rights.

The identity card is equivalent to a resident's permit. It grants its holders the same rights as Congolese citizens, as stipulated by the national refugee law of 25 October 2002, save for political rights. Among these are the rights to work, to education, access to healthcare, and freedom of movement within the country.

The first 3,300 refugees to receive their ID cards will be in the capital Kinshasa. Distribution will then be extended to all refugees, most of whom originate from Angola, Rwanda, and Burundi.

The cards, printed by UNHCR on behalf of the government, are delivered by the Ministry of Interior and valid for two years renewable.