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Congo: access to DRC refugees still very limited

Briefing notes

Congo: access to DRC refugees still very limited

1 August 2000

Access is still very limited to some 60-65,000 Congolese refugees from the DRC who are scattered along a 700-km stretch of the Congo and Ubangui rivers. UNHCR conducted a mission from Loukolela to Motimobiongoa and Liranga on Saturday and confirmed the presence of some 2,000 refugees on the Republic of Congo shore, between Loukolela and Liranga. Small numbers are reportedly continuing to arrive in all locations downstream from Liranga, apparently fleeing the alleged forced recruitment by government forces in the towns of Ngombe, Irebu and Mbandaka and Loukolela (DRC) in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mission found that the food situation is worsening, with manioc and corn flour running scarce in both of the towns which were visited.

The market in Liranga has now been deserted for weeks and even fish - until recently sold at the market - is now difficult to find. However, there is no sign of apparent malnutrition as yet. Many cases of skin diseases, malaria and intestinal conditions were reported. Recommendations were made for the construction of proper latrines and the improvement of general hygiene. Access is virtually impossible to refugee groups scattered between Liranga and Njoundou because of multiple military checkpoints and armed gangs which harass traffic along the river.