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UNHCR helps Congolese refugees return from Mozambique

News Stories, 12 June 2007

© UNHCR/M.Fernandes
Two young refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo board an aircraft in Mozambique as the UN refugee agency begins to repatriate Congolese refugees from the country's only refugee camp.

NAMPULA, Mozambique, June 12 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency has begun an airlift to repatriate refugees to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from Mozambique.

A chartered Hawker Siddeley 748 aircraft left Nampula, near the refugee camp of Maratane in the north of Mozambique, with 58 refugees soon after dawn on Monday and repeated the mission on Tuesday with a further 54 refugees.

Because of problems in arranging landing clearance in DRC, the refugees were flown to Kigoma in Tanzania, where they were scheduled to embark Tuesday afternoon on a ship crossing Lake Tanganyika to the refugees' homeland. UNHCR had already been using the ship to repatriate Congolese refugees returning from Tanzania.

Discussions were under way to permit direct flights to DRC for about 170 additional Congolese refugees who have requested to return home from Maratane Camp.

"I am overjoyed that the registered refugees are finally able to return," said UNHCR Representative in Mozambique Victoria Akyeampong. "I hope this movement will encourage others in the camp to also register for voluntary repatriation. DRC needs her people to rebuild its economy and society."

The repatriation was organized by UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) with the cooperation of the various governments involved. The refugees were accompanied by UNHCR and IOM staff.

The refugees, who had asked three months ago to repatriate to DRC, left Maratane by bus at about four in the morning and took off from Nampula airport after dawn. Most refugees asking to repatriate were going home to Uvira, Fizi and Baraka in the South Kivu region, with a few returning to the Katanga region.

The Congolese comprise about 3,500 out of the total refugee camp population of some 5,000 in Mozambique. Maratane, the only refugee camp in Mozambique, was opened in 2001. Most of the refugees are from the Great Lakes region.

As part of UNHCR's search for durable solutions for refugees, the office in Mozambique will continue to facilitate the voluntary repatriation of refugees wishing to return to their countries.




DR Congo Crisis: Urgent Appeal

Intense fighting has forced more than 64,000 Congolese to flee the country in recent months.

Donate to this crisis

Congolese Medics on Call For Refugees

Jean de Dieu, from the Central African Republic (CAR), was on his way to market in mid-January when he was shot. The 24-year-old shepherd and his family had fled their country two months earlier and sought refuge on an island in the Oubangui River belonging to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Sometimes Jean crossed back to check on his livestock, but last week his luck ran out when he went to take an animal to market. A few hours later, in an improvised operating room in Dula, a Congolese border town on the banks of the Oubangui, medics fight to save his life.

Jean's situation is not unique. Over the past two years, war in the Central African Republic has driven more than 850,000 people from their homes. Many have been attacked as they fled, or killed if they tried to return. In neighbouring DRC, medical resources are being stretched to their limits.

Photographer Brian Sokol, on assignment for UNHCR, captured the moment when Jean and others were rushed into the operating theatre. His images bear witness to desperation, grief, family unity and, ultimately, a struggle for survival.

Congolese Medics on Call For Refugees

Human Misery in Katanga Province's Triangle of Death

People in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Katanga province have long referred to the region between the towns of Manono, Mitwaba and Pweto as the "triangle of death." Despite the presence of UN peace-keepers and government military successes in other parts of the country, the situation in the resources-rich Katanga has been getting worse over the past two years. Conflict between a secessionist militia group and the government and between the Luba (Bantu) and Twa (Pygmy) ethnic groups has left thousands dead and forcibly displaced more than 400,000 people since 2012, including over 70,000 in the last three months. UNHCR has expressed its "deep concern" about the "catastrophic" humanitarian situation in northern Katanga. The violence includes widescale looting and burning of entire villages and human rights' violations such as murder, mass rape and other sexual violence, and the forced military recruitment of children.

The limited presence of humanitarian and development organizations is a serious problem, leading to insufficient assistance to displaced people who struggle to have access to basic services. There are 28 sites hosting the displaced in northern Katanga and many more displaced people live in host communities. While UNHCR has built some 1,500 emergency shelters since January, more is needed, including access to health care, potable water, food and education. The following striking photographs by Brian Sokol for UNHCR show some of the despair and suffering.

Human Misery in Katanga Province's Triangle of Death

Statelessness Around the World

At least 10 million people in the world today are stateless. They are told that they don't belong anywhere. They are denied a nationality. And without one, they are denied their basic rights. From the moment they are born they are deprived of not only citizenship but, in many cases, even documentation of their birth. Many struggle throughout their lives with limited or no access to education, health care, employment, freedom of movement or sense of security. Many are unable to marry, while some people choose not to have children just to avoid passing on the stigma of statelessness. Even at the end of their lives, many stateless people are denied the dignity of a death certificate and proper burial.

The human impact of statelessness is tremendous. Generations and entire communities can be affected. But, with political will, statelessness is relatively easy to resolve. Thanks to government action, more than 4 million stateless people acquired a nationality between 2003 and 2013 or had their nationality confirmed. Between 2004 and 2014, twelve countries took steps to remove gender discrimination from their nationality laws - action that is vital to ensuring children are not left stateless if their fathers are stateless or unable to confer their nationality. Between 2011 and 2014, there were 42 accessions to the two statelessness conventions - indication of a growing consensus on the need to tackle statelessness. UNHCR's 10-year Campaign to End Statelessness seeks to give impetus to this. The campaign calls on states to take 10 actions that would bring a definitive end to this problem and the suffering it causes.

These images are available for use only to illustrate articles related to UNHCR statelessness campaign. They are not available for archiving, resale, redistribution, syndication or third party licensing, but only for one-time print/online usage. All images must be properly credited UNHCR/photographer's name

Statelessness Around the World

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