Democratic Republic of the Congo: Rains hamper Angolan settlement
Heavy rains are hampering aid efforts to help thousands of recently arrived Angolan refugees settle in the Kimvula area, in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Bas Congo Province. As of this week, a total of 7,216 Angolan refugees have been moved by UNHCR trucks from the border area with Angola, to five integration sites around Kimvula, some 60-80 km further inland. Small numbers of people are still arriving on foot to some of the sites as well.
The operation began on 7 November, with several trucks taking refugees to the sites which had previously been parcelled. Refugees receive a 2- to 3-hectare plot of land and some tools to start cultivating crops.
The majority of the recent arrivals are women and children and a high rate of malnutrition has been seen among children. Many of them also lack proper clothes. The last to arrive in DRC have said they had to hide several days in the bush before crossing. A general distribution of two-week food rations was recently done in the five sites. The Salvation Army has also donated 4.8 tons of rice and 1.2 tons of beans, as well as some used clothes. UNHCR started distributing this donation on some of the sites. The rains and the lack of plastic sheeting have hampered the building of shelter and most refugees are still hosted in the community centres at the sites. MSF has also carried out a general vaccination campaign against measles.
The Angolan refugees who were moved to integration sites were part of a group of more than 15,000 who had arrived in the DRC in several waves since August this year, following a recrudescence of fighting in Angola's northern province of Uige. Recent visits in local villages along the border have shown that they are now mostly empty of refugees. Part of the groups who had come from Angolan villages close to the border may have returned spontaneously since then. This latest influx had brought the total number of Angolan refugees in the DRC to close to 200,000.