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More than 25,000 refugees return home from Republic of Congo since May

Making a Difference, 2 October 2012

© UNHCR/S.Kpandji
A group of Congolese refugees heads toward Dongo transit centre after crossing the Oubangui River to Equateur province from Republic of Congo.

DONGO, Democratic Republic of the Congo, October 1 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency has helped more than 25,000 Congolese return to their homes in northern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from neighbouring Republic of Congo under a voluntary repatriation programme launched in May this year.

The 25,000 mark was passed last Friday and the current total of those helped back by UNHCR is 25,696, or more than 6,600 families. UNHCR plans to repatriate a further 24,000 refugees, mostly from Equateur province, across the Oubangui River to the DRC by year's end, plus a futher 32,000 next year.

There are currently more than 100,000 Congolese refugees still in Republic of Congo. They have been living in isolated areas along the river since fleeing inter-ethnic clashes in Equateur in 2009.

A the height of the crisis, about 143,000 Congolese fled their villages for safety in neighbouring countries 123,000 in Republic of Congo and 20,000 in the Central African Republic when the clashes erupted between the Munzaya and Enyele groups over traditional fishing and farming rights.

An additional 100,000 Congolese were displaced inside Equateur province but most returned home when conditions improved. A few thousand refugees also returned on their own from the Republic of Congo and from Central African Republic.

UNHCR has picked up the pace of returns since July, adding a second weekly convoy to take people across the river and home. This has enabled the refugee agency to take back a weekly average of 1,300 people. The returnees tell UNHCR staff that they believe the security situation has improved while parents say they want to go back to enrol their young children in primary schools.

Stefano Severe, UNHCR's Kinshasa-based regional representative, hailed the 25,000 milestone. "These results are very encouraging," he said, adding: "It is necessary to maintain this momentum by continuing to help the refugees living in the Republic Of Congo to come back home."

In addition to the aid package provided to each family on arrival, UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations have initiated reintegration activities, especially in the Libenge and Kungu territories, to help ensure a sustainable return. So far, and with a limited budget, UNHCR and its partners have distributed 700 shelter kits for spontaneous returnees and have also built primary schools as well as 350 shelters and 12 wells for the most vulnerable households. Awareness campaigns aimed at ensuring peaceful co-existence between the various communities have been conducted.

Equateur is one of the most remote provinces in the country, lacking basic socio-economic structures and infrastructure. UNHCR has appealed for development actors to help strengthen the reintegration activities.

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DR Congo Crisis: Urgent Appeal

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

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Returnees in Myanmar

During the early 1990s, more than 250,000 Rohingya Muslims fled across the border into Bangladesh, citing human rights abuses by Myanmar's military government. In exile, refugees received shelter and assistance in 20 camps in the Cox's Bazaar region of Bangladesh. More than 230,000 of the Rohingya Muslims have returned since 1992, but about 22,000 still live in camps in Bangladesh. To promote stability in returnee communities in Myanmar and to help this group of re-integrate into their country, UNHCR and its partner agencies provide monitors to insure the protection and safety of the returnees as well as vocational training, income generation schemes, adult literacy programs and primary education.

Returnees in Myanmar

Lebanese Returnees Receive Aid

UNHCR started distributing emergency relief aid in devastated southern Lebanese villages in the second half of August. Items such as tents, plastic sheeting and blankets are being distributed to the most vulnerable. UNHCR supplies are being taken from stockpiles in Beirut, Sidon and Tyre and continue to arrive in Lebanon by air, sea and road.

Although 90 percent of the displaced returned within days of the August 14 ceasefire, many Lebanese have been unable to move back into their homes and have been staying with family or in shelters, while a few thousand have remained in Syria.

Since the crisis began in mid-July, UNHCR has moved 1,553 tons of supplies into Syria and Lebanon for the victims of the fighting. That has included nearly 15,000 tents, 154,510 blankets, 53,633 mattresses and 13,474 kitchen sets. The refugee agency has imported five trucks and 15 more are en route.

Posted on 29 August 2006

Lebanese Returnees Receive Aid

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

As a massive food distribution gets underway in six UNHCR-run camps for tens of thousands of internally displaced Congolese in North Kivu, the UN refugee agency continues to hand out desperately needed shelter and household items.

A four-truck UNHCR convoy carrying 33 tonnes of various aid items, including plastic sheeting, blankets, kitchen sets and jerry cans crossed Wednesday from Rwanda into Goma, the capital of the conflict-hit province in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The aid, from regional emergency stockpiles in Tanzania, was scheduled for immediate distribution. The supplies arrived in Goma as the World Food Programme (WFP), with assistance from UNHCR, began distributing food to some 135,000 displaced people in the six camps run by the refugee agency near Goma.

More than 250,000 people have been displaced since the fighting resumed in August in North Kivu. Estimates are that there are now more than 1.3 million displaced people in this province alone.

Posted on 6 November 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

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