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Congo: DRC Luozi transit centre to close

Briefing notes

Congo: DRC Luozi transit centre to close

4 April 2000

UNHCR will close its transit centre this week in Luozi in the Democratic Republic of Congo, after more than 52,000 Congolese who fled the civil war in neighbouring Congo Republic returned to Brazzaville during the past 9 months.

Last Saturday, a convoy took 378 refugees from Luozi to a transit camp at Kimaza, emptying the transit centre which once held tens of thousands of people.

Two years ago UNHCR rushed staff to Luozi, 250 km south-west of Kinshasa on the northern side of the river Congo, when fighting in and around Brazzaville trapped tens of thousands of Congolese in the "Pool Region" - an area located between the city Brazzaville and the border with DRC.

Many eventually made their way to the DRC in search of security and aid. Thousands of local inhabitants, dependent on cross border trade, also moved to the site as health conditions in surrounding villages deteriorated rapidly.

UNHCR began helping Congolese return home in June 1999. The return accelerated in December of last year, after a peace agreement was signed between the Congo's warring factions.