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Congolese refugees in Zambia and Tanzania

Briefing notes

Congolese refugees in Zambia and Tanzania

19 March 1999

UNHCR staff estimate this morning that 10,000 Congolese have fled into northern Zambia in the past two weeks, and almost 4,000 have crossed Lake Tanganyika into Tanzania during the same period.

Reports gathered from newly arrived refugees in Zambia indicate that several tens of thousands more Congolese are massing in the town of Pweto, on the border between the two countries.

6,000 of the refugees are in Kaputa town, while 4,000 have been taken in by villagers along the border between Kaputa and Sumbu. Large numbers of the Congolese are from Moba, although some have come from as far away as Kalemie, 300 km north of the border with Zambia. Refugees have told UNHCR staff that local authorities in Pweto are trying to stop more displaced people from entering the town, and they say that conditions there are already extremely crowded.

Most of the arrivals are in good health, although medical staff have registered several cases of malaria and eye infections. UNICEF has sent additional personnel to Kaputa to reinforce local health centres. The Zambian Red Cross have begun preparing the site of Mporokoso, and the first transfers should take place next week.

A UNHCR staff member on an inter-agency mission to South Kivu this week confirmed extensive damage to several villages in the Baraka-Uvira area, as well as on the Ubwari peninsula. Authorities confirmed that Congolese trying to leave the DRC for Tanzania are regularly stopped by rebels fighting government forces.