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Congo: Centrafricans to be transferred from Zongo?

Briefing notes

Congo: Centrafricans to be transferred from Zongo?

3 August 2001

A UNHCR emergency team in north-eastern DRC began visiting sites for the possible transfer of nearly 15,000 CAR refugees from the small town of Zongo amid growing concerns by local DRC authorities about the presence of several hundred CAR soldiers among the refugees encamped in schools, churches and other public buildings in the town. Authorities were also worried that the refugees are living too close to the Central African Republic which they fled in June citing fears for their safety. Zongo, previously a town of 40,000, is about five minutes by motorboat from the CAR capital, Bangui across the Oubangui river.

In meetings with DRC officials early this week, UNHCR explained that the refugee agency could only arrange the transfer of civilian refugees from the town. On Wednesday, a UNHCR team visited a site at a location called Wenze, some 17 km from Zongo, which has been proposed by local authorities for the transfer of the refugees. Many of the 25,000 refugees who fled to north-eastern DRC in June in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in the Central African Republic, are from localities south-west of Bangui. They fled with few belongings and have been living among the local population in and around Zongo in extremely difficult conditions.

Meanwhile, small numbers of CAR refugees have begun to move away from the DRC border areas and are trickling into the Republic of Congo where there are already some 1,600 new refugees in the capital Brazzaville and in the towns of Betou and Impfondo, both on the Oubangui river.