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New exodus from the DRC

Briefing notes

New exodus from the DRC

4 January 1999

Continued fighting between rebels and government forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has led to a new exodus of refugees into neighbouring Central African Republic, to the north of the Congo, and into Uganda in the north east.

Since last Saturday (2 January) some 5,000 terrified Congolese refugees, mostly women and children, fled the town of Zongo and crossed the border over the Ubangui river by pirogue, seeking safety in the Central African Republic's capital Bangui. The refugees said they fled after gunfire erupted in and around the town of Zongo and they feared it was about to fall in rebel hands. UNHCR staff in Bangui could clearly hear the sound of gunfire coming from the other side of the river.

UNHCR staff together with the local Red Cross provided food and initial health care to the newly arrived refugees.

In Uganda, UNHCR staff over the past several days have registered more than 2,900 new refugees, also predominantly women and children, arriving from DRC's Rutshuru district into Uganda's Kisoro province. Several unaccompanied and malnourished children have been placed in special care.

UNHCR has transferred the new arrivals from the border zone to the Hoima district further north on the eastern shores of Lake Albert, where the Kyangwali settlement already hosts several thousand earlier refugees from DRC. At Kyangwali the refugees have been supplied with food and medicine (vaccines against meningitis and, for children, measles).