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DRC: UNHCR to send supplies for Centrafrican arrivals

Briefing notes

DRC: UNHCR to send supplies for Centrafrican arrivals

3 July 2001

UNHCR is preparing to send urgently-needed shelter material and basic household supplies to an estimated 25,000 refugees who recently arrived in north-western Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from the Central African Republic (CAR).

A UNHCR assessment team that travelled last week to the town of Zongo, on the DRC side of the Oubangui River border, say the refugees, who fled tensions following a failed, May 28 coup attempt in the Central African Republic, are scattered across 20 villages in the area. The refugees, who are in relatively good physical condition, were registered by the DRC Red Cross. The UNHCR team was told by relief workers that the first group of refugees crossed into the DRC more than two weeks ago. Others were still arriving by late last week.

Many of the refugees fled with few belongings and are living among the local population around Zongo, often in very rudimentary shelter. We're worried that the onset of the rainy season will make it even worse, so we're sending plastic sheeting and other household items.

Before the influx, Zongo had a population of 40,000 people. MSF has conducted a nutritional survey and found no signs of malnutrition among the refugees, many of whom are fishermen or small traders. The influx has, however, severely strained the local water and sanitation systems.