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Democratic Republic of the Congo: Angolan transfer completed

Briefing notes

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Angolan transfer completed

11 September 2001

UNHCR has completed the transfer of more than 3,000 Angolan refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo's south-western border town of Kidompolo to more secure areas inland. In the transfer operation, which ended on Friday, the refugees were taken to Congolese villages south of the capital, Kinshasa. The refugees are part of a group of nearly 10,000 Angolan refugees who had fled to the DRC in early August in the wake of a UNITA offensive on the northern Angolan town of Beu. The last group of refugees left Kidompolo on Friday morning on foot at the start of a two-day journey to the settlement villages of Zomfi, Zulu and Sadi, some 50 km from the DRC/Angola frontier. Because of extremely poor road conditions, the majority of the more than 3,000 refugees who have arrived in the new locations had to walk from their border encampments to the villages. Vulnerable refugees, including young children, the sick, the elderly and the disabled were transported by truck - a three-hour journey.

Over the weekend, many of the refugees in the villages had begun constructing huts and other shelter in areas that have been set aside for them. Each refugee family was allocated half a hectare of land. UNHCR and partners will provide seeds, tools and other aid to the refugees over the next several months. Future support will, however, be community-based and will focus mainly on health and education facilities in localities where refugees have settled.

An estimated 4,000 Angolan refugees who arrived in the DRC during August still remain in other border areas - 2,000 in the town of Kimvula and a similar number scattered across several other villages. More than 2,000 others have returned on their own to their homes in areas around the town of Maquela do Zombo, in northern Angola.

Over the weekend, a UNHCR team travelled to the DRC town of Kimvula, a remote area some 120 km east of Kidompolo where the majority of the new arrivals have been gathered. An aid convoy was also sent yesterday from Kinshasa to the area. The UNHCR team has began making preparations for the transfer of refugees from Kimvula to three villages further away from the border. A total of six villages, including Zulu, Zomfi and Sadi which have already received 3,000 refugees, have been prepared for the new Angolan refugees. Before the recent influx, the DRC was hosting over 180,000 Angolan refugees. UNHCR is assisting over 70,000 of them in the Bas-Congo and Katanga Provinces.