UN worried by the unabated volatile situation in the Republic of Congo

7 March 2003

Amid reports of a new influx of asylum seekers into the Republic of Congo, the United Nations refugee agency today said it is extremely worried by the continuing volatile situation in the Central African Republic (CAR).

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) dispatched a team to verify reports of a fresh influx of some 600 Central Africans into the small town of Betikoumba in the Republic of Congo. Last month, some 200 Central Africans fled fighting in areas south of the capital, Bangui, into the same area.

Non-governmental organizations working in the area said new refugees started arriving in Betikoumba yesterday morning following a night of fighting in nearby Mongoumba on Wednesday. The CAR town of Mongoumba is on the border junction between the Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

It was not clear what caused the skirmishes between Congolese rebels and the Central African Army, who are otherwise believed to be allies.

Meanwhile, instability inside CAR has also driven some 26,000 people into neighbouring Chad. By the middle of this week, the number of new arrivals into southern Chad had climbed to 26,000, though daily numbers had subsided to some 100 to150 people a day.


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