DRC: UNHCR staff reach new Angolan arrivals
UNHCR staff from Kahemba in the Democratic Republic of Congo were able to conduct a two-day mission on the weekend to remote border areas and contact for the first time newly arrived Angolan refugees. The mission to three villages in south-eastern Bandundu province proceeded under heavy military escort and put the number of Angolans who have crossed to that vicinity in the past few weeks at 1,000. The estimate included information from an area that the mission was not allowed to visit by the accompanying soldiers, who cited possible encounters with UNITA rebels.
Refugees who had crossed to the DRC in the past week confirmed to UNHCR that thousands more displaced people have erected makeshift shelters in forests on the Angolan side of the border. They named dozens of small villages in Angola's border province of Lunda Norte that were abandoned by their population after clashes between UNITA and government forces at Camaxilo.
Some refugees UNHCR spoke with said they had crossed to the DRC after a month of seeking safety in the woods, and only after they were no longer able to find food. They reported that thousands of individuals continue to move out of relative safety in wooded areas at night to search for food.
Four UNHCR trucks are standing by in Kinshasa as the fuel shortage has so far allowed only three trucks with emergency aid to make the 10-day trip to Kahemba.