Last of Congolese refugees from Central African Republic return home – UN
The United Nations refugee agency today announced the end of an organized repatriation programme which over the past three years has brought nearly 5,000 Congolese refugees home from the Central African Republic (CAR).
The last convoy traveled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) this weekend carrying just over 130 returnees leaving the CAR capital Bangui. In total, 4,994 Congolese refugees have returned home from CAR.
“Returns to DRC started from CAR in October 2004, but the operation was repeatedly interrupted for security concerns, weather, conditions in areas of return,” said Jennifer Pagonis, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Since the start of the Congolese repatriation in 2004, some 135,000 Congolese refugees have returned home from surrounding countries – 43,000 of them since the beginning of this year, according to UNHCR. As many as 312,000 Congolese refugees remain in neighbouring countries – mainly in Tanzania, Zambia and Rwanda.
The DRC suffered decades of instability and four years of civil war between 1998 and 2002, during which an estimated 4 million people lost their lives and hundreds of thousands fled the violence.