• Text size Normal size text | Increase text size by 10% | Increase text size by 20% | Increase text size by 30%

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

Batalimo to Batanga and Beyond: Congolese Return Home from CAR

Over the past month, almost 6,300 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have left the Batalimo camp in the troubled Central African Republic and returned voluntarily to their homes in Equateur province. Their decision to go back is a further sign of the gravity of the situation in Central African Republic, where escalated violence since December has left hundreds of thousands internally displaced and forced almost 350,000 to flee to neighbouring countries. The refugees at Batalimo were among some 20,000 Congolese who had fled to the Central African Republic to escape inter-ethnic conflict back home. The return operation from Batalimo had been postponed several times for security and logistical reasons, but on April 10 the first convoy headed across the Oubangui River. The last arrived in the DRC on May 10. The UN refugee agency organized transportation of the refugees from Batalimo to the Central African Republic riverside town of Zinga, where they boarded boats for the crossing to Batanga or Libenge in Equateur province. In Batanga, the returnees were registered, provided with documentation and given a cash grant to help them reintegrate. They were then transported to their villages, where they will be monitored. Photographer Leonora Baumann followed one group back to the DRC.

Batalimo to Batanga and Beyond: Congolese Return Home from CAR

On the Road: UNHCR Transfers Congolese Refugees to A Home in Uganda

In mid-July 2013, thousands of Congolese refugees began pouring over the border from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) into Bundibugyo district in western Uganda. They were fleeing fighting triggered when a Ugandan rebel group, the Allied Democratic Forces, attacked the town of Kamango in DRC's troubled North Kivu province. Many stayed in the mountainous border area, but others gravitated to the Bubukwanga Transit Centre deeper inside Uganda. Here, they were provided with protection and aid by the government, UNHCR and its partners. But the transit centre, with a capacity to hold 12,500 people, was soon overcrowded and people were encouraged to move to Kyangwali Refugee Settlement located 280 kilometres to the north in Hoima District. Since the first convoy left Bubukwanga for Kyangwali on August 14, more than 11,000 people have relocated to the settlement, where they have access to more comprehensive and long-term services. Photographer Michele Sibiloni recently visited Bubukwanga and followed a convoy of refugees as they made their way to the Kyangwali settlement.

On the Road: UNHCR Transfers Congolese Refugees to A Home in Uganda

UNHCR's 2013 Nansen Refugee Award Winner

Sister Angélique Namaika, a Congolese nun who has shown exceptional courage and unwavering support for survivors of violence in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has been selected as the 2013 winner of UNHCR's Nansen Refugee Award.

The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a brutal Ugandan rebel group, has waged a campaign of violence that has uprooted hundreds of thousands of people in north-eastern DRC's Orientale province over the past decade. Many Congolese women and girls have been kidnapped and terrorized.

Sister Angélique has been a beacon of hope for these victims, known for her very personal, one-on-one approach to help survivors move beyond their trauma. Many of the people under her care have been forcibly displaced and subjected to sexual violence.

The brutality of the LRA is notorious and the testimonials of the women Sister Angélique has helped are horrific. Adding to their trauma is the fact that many of the victims are stigmatized by society because of their experience. It takes a special person to help them heal and rebuild their lives.

This Year's Nansen Refugee Award winner has spent the past decade helping women, mostly through a combination of income-generation activities, skills development courses, literacy training and psycho-social counselling. She has made a positive difference to the lives of thousands of individuals, their families and communities.

UNHCR's 2013 Nansen Refugee Award Winner

Our Sister, Our Mother - 2013 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award Laureate
Play video

Our Sister, Our Mother - 2013 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award Laureate

The 2013 winner of UNHCR`s Nansen Refugee Award is Sister Angelique Namaika, who works in the remote north east region of Democratic Republic of the Congo with survivors of displacement and abuse by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). She has helped over 2000 displaced women and girls who have suffered the most awful kidnapping and abuse, to pick up the pieces of their lives and become re-accepted by their communities.
Uganda: New Camp, New ArrivalsPlay video

Uganda: New Camp, New Arrivals

Recent fighting in eastern Congo has seen thousands of civilians flee to a new camp, Bubukwanga, in neighboring Uganda.
DR Congo: Tears of RapePlay video

DR Congo: Tears of Rape

Eastern DRC remains one of the most dangerous places in Africa, particularly for women.