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Democratic Republic of the Congo: Airlift begins next week

Briefing notes

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Airlift begins next week

21 December 2001

UNHCR will begin airlifting shelter supplies next week from Kinshasa for the construction of shelters for refugees from the Central African Republic at a new site that has prepared at Mole, 45 km south of Zongo in the DRC.

The transfer of several thousand refugees from Zongo to Mole, initially planned to start at mid-month, has been delayed by a shortage of additional plastic sheeting for the individual shelters that refugees will build for themselves. The material reached Kinshasa this week after finally clearing customs at the DRC port of Matadi.

UNHCR and NGO partners working at Mole have already completed construction of a water system, health and distribution centres, as well as classrooms for children. With the additional supplies, transfers of refugees to the site could begin before the end of the month.

The new camp at Mole will have an initial capacity of 10,000 people. A total of 23,000 Central African people crossed to Zongo and other villages along the Ubangui river following an attempted coup in the CAR last May. Despite the visit at the beginning of December of a government delegation, and calls to return from President Ange-Félix Patassé, the refugees have so far not indicated a willingness to repatriate.