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UN agency begins transfer of Angolan refugees within DR of Congo

UN agency begins transfer of Angolan refugees within DR of Congo

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today began the transfer of nearly 10,000 Angolan refugees from border areas south of the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital, Kinshasa, to villages 50 kilometres away from the frontier.

The refugees had fled a 3 August UNITA offensive on the town of Beu in northern Angola and have been living in makeshift shelters under difficult conditions in recent weeks, UNHCR spokeswoman Millicent Mutuli told the press in Geneva.

"Because of poor road conditions in the area, a first group of 600 refugees is scheduled to depart on foot this morning for the villages of Zulu and Zomfi," Ms. Mutuli said. "They will stop briefly, later today, at a rest station 17 kilometres away and are scheduled to spend the night at a transit centre more than 30 kilometres from the border."

The refugees are expected to make their way tomorrow morning to the villages of settlement, where each family will receive half a hectare of land, Ms. Mutuli said. Eight villages have been prepared for the more than 10,000 new Angolan refugees currently at two locations along the DRC border - nearly 8,000 in Kidompolo and another 2,000 in Kimvula.

According to UNHCR, the plan is to move an average of 600 refugees daily, to complete the operation by 5 or 6 September. Vulnerable refugees such as young children, the sick, the disabled and the elderly will be transported by truck.