Tanzania: Repatriation of Congolese hits 25,000 mark
The number of people helped by UNHCR to return to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from Tanzania since the repatriation started in October 2005 passed the 25,000 mark on Friday. The 25,000th returnee arrived by ferry at the Lake Tanganyika port of Baraka in South Kivu province in eastern DRC along with a group of 484 other returnees. On Saturday, they were transported to their home regions, some up to 130 km from Baraka.
Returns to the DRC first started from the Central African Republic in October 2004 and then in April 2005 from the Republic of the Congo. In total, nearly 90,000 refugees have returned to their homes, almost half of them helped by UNHCR.
Besides assisting the refugees with transport and a basic assistance package, UNHCR has been looking at ways to improve the livelihoods of the returning population through micro-credit schemes and income-generating activities. In South Kivu province, these projects are already providing a lifeline to some 2,300 returnees, bringing indirect benefits to the wider community.
Earlier this month, we launched a US$47 million appeal for programmes aimed at helping some 98,000 Congolese refugees return home this year mainly from nearby countries. We are planning for some 45,000 refugees to return from Tanzania, 25,000 from the Republic of Congo, 20,000 from Zambia and more than 8,000 from other countries. There are currently some 408,000 Congolese living in exile, mostly in neighbouring countries.