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Chad: repatriation of DRC refugees

Briefing notes

Chad: repatriation of DRC refugees

27 August 2002

UNHCR yesterday (Monday) repatriated 85 Congolese (DRC) refugees from the Chadian capital, N'Djamena, to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The 85 were airlifted on a Cameroon Airlines flight which stopped over at Gbadolite - the capital of the Congo's Equateur province - where 58 people disembarked. All were very happy to be back home, claiming that the hardships of life in exile had led them to take the decision to return. The group, which went all the way to Kinshasa, include five people from the Republic of Congo capital, Brazzaville, which is located across the Congo River from Kinshasa. There are an additional 200 DRC refugees known to UNHCR in Chad who may also opt for repatriation.

The returnees are part of an original 30,000 DRC refugees, mostly from the Equator province, who had initially fled to the Central African Republic (CAR) in different waves during the 1996-7 and the 1999 wars in the Congo. Some of them later trickled on into Chad but most remained in the Central African Republic or moved on to other West and North African countries.

The absence of substantial assistance programmes in Chad and the lack of prospects for the refugees' resettlement in third countries have made the return to the DRC the only viable option for the Congolese residing in Chad.