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Congolese arrivals in Zambia

Briefing notes

Congolese arrivals in Zambia

8 March 1999

More than 4,000 refugees fleeing intensifying fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo's south-eastern Shaba province have crossed into northern Zambia since Friday. The arrivals say more Congolese are on their way to Zambia as anti-government rebels are reportedly attacking targets south of the town of Moba, on Lake Tanganyika.

Zambian security forces have also disarmed and held several hundred Congolese soldiers and policemen near the border.

The refugees are scattered along the border near the towns of Kaputa and Nsumbe, over a distance of 60 kilometres. Some have found shelter in schools, churches and villages, but many are still sleeping in the open.

UNHCR on Saturday sent a team from Lusaka to the town of Kaputa. They report that it has been raining heavily in the area for the past several days and that there is an urgent need for plastic sheeting and sanitation facilities. Roads are in very poor condition and a truck with emergency supplies was stuck on the road to Kaputa for two days before being freed.

200 refugees entered Zambia last Thursday, but the number grew to 2,000 by Friday and passed 4,000 on Sunday. UNHCR plans to put up temporary structures as soon as a suitable site is found for the arrivals.

There are already some 12,000 refugees from the DRC in Zambia.