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Democratic Republic of the Congo: Organised voluntary repatriation resumes

Briefing notes

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Organised voluntary repatriation resumes

1 September 2006

UNHCR is resuming this week the organised voluntary repatriation of Congolese refugees following a month-long suspension of activities during the first round of elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

A repatriation ferry is crossing Lake Tanganyika this morning to bring home from Tanzania 488 Congolese returnees. Earlier this week, another group of 451 refugees took the same voyage. All returnees are taken to a transit centre in Baraka, a port town in DRC's South Kivu province. There, they receive UNHCR assistance packages which include blankets, mosquito nets, plastic sheeting, jerry cans and other items. Each family also receives a three-month food ration from WFP [World Food Programme], as well as seeds and tools provided by FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization].

The recent outburst of violence in Kinshasa, following the announcement of preliminary results of the presidential elections, has had an impact on refugee return intentions. Despite their expressed desire to go home, some Congolese refugees in Tanzania say they prefer to await the conclusion of the electoral process before taking their final decision on return.

With today's return, the total number of Congolese refugee returnees to the DRC in 2006 has surpassed 22,000. Of them, more than 14,000 went to South Kivu province, and some 7,300 to Equateur province in the western part of the country.

There are still more than 350,000 Congolese refugees in need of solutions. Most of them are hosted by neighbouring Tanzania, Zambia and Republic of Congo.