Angolan refugees transferred away from Congolese border
KINSHASA, Sept 10 (UNHCR) - UNHCR has completed the transfer of more than 3,000 Angolan refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC) border town of Kidompolo to three settlement villages some 50 kms from the DRC/Angola frontier. The last group of refugees set out on September 7 for the two-day journey from Kidompolo to the villages of Zomfi, Zulu and Sadi. The refugees are part of a group of nearly 10,000 Angolan refugees who had fled to the DRC in early August in the wake of a UNITA offensive on the northern Angola town of Beu.
Because of extremely poor road conditions, the majority of the refugees had to walk from their border encampments to the new villages. Vulnerable refugees, including young children, the sick, the old and the disabled, were transported by truck - a three-hour trip over difficult roads.
Some 4,000 refugees still remain in the DRC's border areas - 2,000 in the town of Kimvula and the rest scattered across several villages. On September 8 and 9, a UNHCR team travelled to Kimvula to begin preparations for the transfer of the refugees there.
In all, six villages have been prepared for the new Angolan refugees. In Zomfi, Zulu and Sadi, which have already taken in 3,000 transferred refugees, many have begun constructing huts and other shelter in areas that have been set aside for them. Each refugee family has been allocated half a hectare of land. UNHCR and partner organizations expect to provide seeds, tools and other aid to the refugees for the coming several months. Future support, however, will be community-based and will focus mainly on health and education structures in localities where refugees have settled.
Before the recent influx, the DRC hosted over 180,000 Angolan refugees. UNHCR was assisting over 70,000 of them in the Bas-Congo and Katanga Provinces. Of the 10,000 new arrivals, more than 2,000 have returned on their own to their homes near the towns of Beu and Maquela do Zombo in northern Angola.