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Congolese arrivals in Tanzania

Briefing notes

Congolese arrivals in Tanzania

2 July 1999

A drop on Wednesday and Thursday of this week in the number of new refugee arrivals from the Democratic Republic of Congo has provided UNHCR staff in Kigoma, Tanzania, some desperately needed respite. After more than 4,300 refugees crossed Lake Tanganyika in boats on Monday and Tuesday, only 800 arrived over the next two days.

There was no immediate explanation for the decrease. Congolese fleeing in the past 10 days have come from 10 to 12 villages along the border between South Kivu and Katanga provinces, where fighting has reportedly been heavy, and from South Kivu where humanitarian conditions have declined steadily since the start of the war last August.

UNHCR staff say that recent arrivals look much poorer, with many wearing just rags. Refugees still appear to be carrying whatever they own with them, but in contrast to past groups, this often now consists of just a few pots and pans.

UNHCR and NGO partner staff have been combing two existing camps for additional space to put the new arrivals, filling up all available areas in the Lugufu and Nyarugusu sites. Suitable land for an additional camp site has yet to be identified. This situation is putting enormous strain on the water supply in Lugufu, in particular, which depends on water pumped from a distance from the camp.

The total number of Congolese refugees who have arrived in Tanzania since last August now stands at 87,000.