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Congolese refugees in Zambia: transfers postponed

Briefing notes

Congolese refugees in Zambia: transfers postponed

9 April 1999

Rains and deteriorating road conditions have postponed the transfer of thousands of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo to a newly-established camp in Zambia, and are making resupply of temporary sites and villages sheltering 24,000 Congolese increasingly difficult.

UNHCR is working with local contractors to repair bridges on the road to Kaputa, in the north of the country. Trucks carrying food aid from Lusaka, normally a two-day journey, have already been delayed for days.

In addition to the number of refugees who have crossed into Zambia since March 5, fleeing fighting between the Congolese army and rebels opposed to the government in Kinshasa, UNHCR has received reports that as many as 10,000 more have arrived in another remote area along the border. UNHCR emergency team members are today trying to reach the village of Chienge, where local officials have said thousands more Congolese have entered Zambia in the past few days.

UNHCR and partners have readied a site at Mporokoso, some 200 km from Kaputa, for Congolese refugees. So far practically impassable roads have delayed transfers there.