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DR Congo: airlift first phase completed

Briefing notes

DR Congo: airlift first phase completed

31 July 2001

UNHCR completed the first phase of an emergency airlift of relief supplies for more than 25,000 refugees from the Central African Republic in the north-western DRC town of Zongo and is now searching for more efficient means to send an additional 60 tons of aid from the DRC capital, Kinshasa. Nearly 20 tons of plastic sheeting, blankets, mats, jerry cans and kitchen sets flown from Kinshasa to the town of Gemena, some 280 km south-east of Zongo, late last week were ferried by helicopter from MONUC, the UN peace-keeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to Zongo by the week-end. The aid flown in will be distributed to approximately 1,000 families who are encamped in schools, churches and other public buildings in the Zongo area. Others are living with Congolese families in the area. An estimated 15,000 refugees are in the town of Zongo, about a kilometre across the river border from the CAR capital, Bangui. Up to 7,000 refugees also remain scattered across 20 villages along the DRC side of the Oubangui on a 50-kilometre stretch south of Zongo. Another group of 3,000 - 4,000 refugees are gathered in the town of Libenge, some 100 km south of Zongo. Many of the refugees first arrived in north-west DRC in early June in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in the Central African Republic.