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Congolese camps near capacity in Tanzania

Briefing notes

Congolese camps near capacity in Tanzania

11 June 1999

UNHCR will halt transfers of Congolese this weekend to Kigoma's Lugufu camp, the destination since last August for 55,000 refugees fleeing fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as the large number of arrivals during the past three weeks has filled the site to capacity.

A second area camp is being stretched to shelter another 10,000 refugees. Congolese will be taken there from transit centres near Kigoma port beginning next week.

UNHCR is concerned that remaining space could be used up in the space of a few weeks, and is urgently searching for new sites with regional authorities. Today, staff are assessing a site 50 km south of Kigoma, which they fear may be too remote and inaccessible during the rainy season. Last year, regular supplies to camps were interrupted because of impassable roads.

In the past three weeks alone almost 12,000 Congolese have crossed Lake Tanganyika. The number includes at least 150 of a group of 700 refugees who had drifted ashore in Burundi last month when the boat ferrying them from the DRC ran out of fuel. Burundi authorities allowed the group to return to Congo, but they said the situation is still too unstable to remain there.

The arrivals since the rebellion broke out in 1998 now total more than 68,000. In addition, around 15,000 Congolese remain in western Tanzania from the 1996-1997 conflict.