UN agency transfers new DR of Congo refugees to northern Burundi

28 November 2005

The UN refugee agency is transferring more than 400 recently arrived refugees from the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who say they are fleeing fighting between the DRC army and the Mayi-Mayi militia, to a camp in northern Burundi.

Addressing the group, Rose-Medee Dusenge said: "UNHCR will do its best to rapidly transfer those of you willing to move to Gasorwe camp."

The refugees unanimously agreed to join the 6,000 inhabitants of the camp, located well away from the Congolese-Burundian border, until the fighting and tensions ease in their home area in the Ruzizi plain of South Kivu.

The number of those who could be immediately transferred was limited by the 134 seats available. Another 98 people had been moved several days earlier.

"Widows and elderly go first, followed by people with large families," Ms. Dusenge told them.

The remaining 43 families, totalling more than 200 individuals, would have to catch the convoy planned for next week, she said.

None of the new refugees are wounded or suffering major health problems, but will be quarantined for a week because cases of cholera have been reported in the area from which they came.

While refugees are leaving some areas of South Kivu because of fighting, security conditions in other parts of the region, such as Fizi and Uvira, have recently improved enough to motivate many Congolese refugees to head home from Tanzania. UNHCR has begun assisting their return so as to ensure that they reach their destination safely and it is also operating reintegration programmes.

Burundi is hosting as many as 30,000 Congolese refugees, about 8,000 of them in two refugee camps and the others in urban areas.

 

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