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DRC: Central African Republic former soldiers successfully registered

Briefing notes

DRC: Central African Republic former soldiers successfully registered

5 October 2001

A team of UN peacekeepers successfully registered former soldiers from the Central African Republic this week as the first part of an operation to separate the soldiers from CAR refugees in Zongo, in northern Democratic Republic of Congo. The mission of MONUC peacekeepers will return today to Kinshasa with the final count of former soldiers and policemen, estimated at around 1,000 individuals and their families.

The soldiers were also told to turn in any arms they brought with them to the DRC and were told that they would then be transferred to a separate site at Bokilio, 120 km inland from the riverside town of Zongo. Although the group insists they have no weapons and have asked to be treated as civilians, they have refused to be transferred to another location without orders from commanding officers.

UNHCR has insisted that the group be kept separate from a larger group of 24,000 refugees. The agency has received support from MONUC for the operation and once the former soldiers are moved to Bokili, will individually screen them to determine if any should be excluded from receiving international aid.

In Zongo, UNHCR and NGO partners are moving refugees out of schools and other public buildings into a temporary transit centre. Communal shelters and cooking centres have been set up for refugees while preparations are completed at a new site, Mole, along with work on the road between the towns. UNHCR and partners are also improving the airstrip at Zongo in order to permit larger supply aircraft to land.