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Central African Republic: return from DRC begins

Briefing notes

Central African Republic: return from DRC begins

10 June 2003

Central African Republic (CAR) refugees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have started going home with the help of UNHCR. The return operation kicked off yesterday morning (Monday 9 June) with 275 CAR refugees from Mole camp, 34 km from the city of Zongo in DRC's Equateur Province. The returnees were ferried across the Ubangui River to Bangui, the capital of CAR, aboard boats chartered by UNHCR.

By the end of the eight-day return operation, nearly all Mole camp's population of 2,800 CAR refugees are expected to have repatriated. So far, more than 2,600 have said they will return home this week. The journey home marks the end of two years of exile. Most will be returning to destroyed homes and will need help to settle. UNHCR is providing each refugee family with a reintegration package that includes kitchen sets, jerry cans, blankets and mats, all of it distributed in the camp prior to their departure. Refugee families also receive seeds, fishing nets and agricultural tools. In addition, upon arrival they are given a three-month WFP [World Food Programme] food ration.

Mole camp refugees, who are mostly relatives of the mutineers of the failed coup of May 2001, have been eager to return since mid-March, following the change in regime in Bangui. They are the remainder of the some 26,000 Bangui residents who had sought refugee in DRC.