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High Commissioner's mission to the Great Lakes

Briefing notes

High Commissioner's mission to the Great Lakes

25 June 1999

Mrs. Ogata arrived yesterday in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, after seeing government leaders and UNHCR programmes this week in Rwanda and Burundi. She is scheduled to meet with authorities in the DRC capital to discuss the situation of refugees from Angola and Congo (Brazzaville) in the DRC, as well as the rebellion in the east, which has prompted tens of thousands of Congolese to leave to Zambia and Tanzania.

Mrs Ogata will visit an Angolan refugee camp at Kilueka, in the Bas-Congo, which hosts around 3,000 of the 20,000 refugees who were swept out of northern Angola by battles between UNITA rebels and the army in January,1999. The situation in this area is still tense. Last weekend a transfer of 300 refugees from border villages to the camp had to be cancelled when heavy fighting erupted on the Angolan side of the border and some of the troops crossed into the DRC.

In the east of the DRC, confrontations between rebels and government supporters, and between rival factions within the Mai Mai, have degenerated, turning South Kivu into "chaos," according to refugees arriving in Tanzania. Around 1,000 Congolese have arrived by boat every day since Sunday 20 June.

While the flow of refugees continues, UNHCR is urgently working with local government officials to decide on the location for a new camp site. The total of Congolese in Tanzania who have fled the rebellion since last August now stands at almost 80,000.