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Congo Brazzaville: fighting intensifies, thousands flee

Briefing notes

Congo Brazzaville: fighting intensifies, thousands flee

26 January 1999

Battles between the army and militias loyal to former Prime Minister Kolelas intensified around the capital last week, with stray shells and bullets landing in Kinshasa, across the river. 40,000 people have now fled the Pool region to Bas Congo, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Half of that number are citizens of Congo-Brazzaville, whom UNHCR is helping in the village of Luozi (DRC), while the others are citizens of the DRC who were living on the Brazzaville side of the river.

Yesterday staff also reported attacks by militia in Dolisie, located only 100 km from Pointe-Noire. UNHCR assists seven thousand Angolan refugees in camps in Pointe-Noire.

UNHCR is looking into indications that Rwandans living in refugee sites north of Brazzaville may be called, or be volunteeering, to take part in the confrontations between forces loyal to the former government and the national army. The government is reported to have sent a boat from Brazzaville to Njoundou, one of the two upriver sites together housing around 3,000 remaining Rwandans, possibly to pick up volunteers from among the Rwandan men. A UNHCR field officer in Loukolela also expected the Government boat to stop there in the next few days, possibly for the same purpose.