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More people fleeing Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

Briefing notes

More people fleeing Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

8 August 2000

Fighting in several areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo is driving thousands of new refugees into the neighbouring countries.

UNHCR's staff who travelled to the Kisoro district of Uganda last week found that an estimated 2,700 refugees from DR Congo had crossed into Uganda since late July and the influx continues. The refugees say that they are running away from rebel forces who accuse them of harbouring and aiding Interahamwe Hutu militia. They come from villages in north Kivu, situated a few kilometres inside DR Congo, close to the border with Uganda and Rwanda. Many of the refugees are staying with relatives or friends, while others are renting rooms. Some are farmers who refuse to be transferred further into Uganda, away from their fields.

New refugees from DRC are also seeking safety in the Central African Republic which now hosts 7,000 people who fled DRC's Equateur Province. New arrivals are recorded in CAR town of Zinga, on the eastern bank of the Ubangui River some 40 km north of the DRC town of Libenge. UNHCR in Mougoumba, across the river from Libenge, report artillery fire around Libenge with Congolese Armed Forces (FAC) navigating in the CAR waters in pursuit of the rebels. Refugees and the UNHCR office in Moungoumba also witnessed FAC planes occasionally flying over CAR territory at a very low altitude, causing panic among the refugees and the local population. Some people have fled further inland. UNHCR and the Central African Red Cross have distributed plastic sheeting and blankets to refugees and are now starting to erect temporary shelters. Health posts in the area are also receiving extra staff and medicines from the local Red Cross. Following the death of four children of measles last week, a campaign of vaccination against measles is starting today (Tuesday) for children under five.

More refugees are also fleeing to the Congo Republic, which already hosts 60,000 refugees. UNHCR continues to face bureaucratic as well as security obstacles in trying to bring relief aid to the remote area. Last week, authorities in Kinshasa ordered the off-loading of 150 tons of supplies from a barge bound for the north for "procedural" reaso