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Zambia: 60,000 reported to have fled DRC fighting

Briefing notes

Zambia: 60,000 reported to have fled DRC fighting

5 December 2000

Up to 60,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo have now reportedly fled to Zambia, as fighting rages between government troops and rebel forces in and around the DRC town of Pweto. The south-eastern Katanga Province town is a heavily populated regional centre and has reportedly changed hands several times in the past few days. A total of 489 soldiers who arrived with the civilian refugees have been disarmed by Zambian authorities and accommodated in a separate facility.

As of Monday, there were a confirmed 10,000 refugees accommodated in a school in the Zambian town of Chiengi. Up to 50,000 others could be scattered in surrounding villages, according to unconfirmed reports. The 10,000 refugees at the school are being transferred to an established refugee camp at Kala, 140 km inland. The Kala camp already hosts more than 4,500 refugees, while Mwange - another refugee camp in northern Zambia - has a Congolese refugee population of 22,000.

UNHCR is rushing more staff and supplies to the area to deal with the influx. New camp sites have also been identified to accommodate more refugees should the arrivals continue. The number of Congolese who have fled the fighting in the DRC since last May could now total more than 80,000.