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Congolese refugees continue to cross border into Burundi

Briefing notes

Congolese refugees continue to cross border into Burundi

25 June 2004

Small numbers of Congolese refugees continue to cross the border into Burundi, with a few dozen new arrivals over the past two days. On Tuesday, around 250 new arrivals were reported. We estimate some 34,000 refugees are now located on three sites near the border - Rugombo, Cibitoke and Gatumba.

UNHCR is distributing relief items such as blankets, mats, soap, jerry cans and hygiene articles at Rugombo, where the bulk of the refugees are located. The distribution began on Wednesday and will continue over the weekend. Once distribution is completed in Rugombo, we will move to the other two sites. Food rations from WFP were distributed yesterday at Cibitoke and distribution will continue at the other two sites. Distribution should be completed on all the sites on Saturday, with refugees receiving rations for 15 days.

MSF has confirmed a few cases of cholera among the refugees and up to 30 people have been quarantined. Preventive measures have been taken in all sites to halt any spread of the disease. We are also increasing the water storage capacity in all sites by constructing additional tanks and installing more bladders. One tank was finished yesterday and the work is ongoing.

We have also begun working with the ICRC and the International Rescue Committee to identify unaccompanied minors among the new arrivals and begin tracing in an effort to reunite them with family members.

Today, our site planning staff are headed to Cankuzo and Rutana provinces, where the Burundian authorities have proposed three sites for potential camps for the new arrivals. The mission will evaluate the locations to see if they are suitable and look into the logistics of moving refugees from the border to the proposed sites on the opposite side of the country.