Repatriation of Congolese Refugees Gathers Momentum

Posted: 
06/28/07

IOM's efforts to provide repatriation assistance to Congolese
refugees who wish to return from the Republic of Zambia to their
homes in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
(DRC) have been stepped up this week with the opening of a new land
route.

On Thursday, a first IOM convoy transporting 345 refugees left
Kala refugee camp in northern Zambia to travel some 300 kms to an
IOM reception centre in the border town of Pweto, where they are
provided with food rations and onward transportation to their final
destinations.

Previous convoys left Zambia's Mwange and Kala refugee camps to
travel to Mpulungu, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, where the
refugees boarded a ship to sail to reception centres in Moba and
Kalemie in eastern DRC.

The repatriation, which was launched on 3 May, has so far been
limited to three convoys per month pending road repairs which will
open new land routes for faster returns.

"There's been a large turn out at registration and departure
centres," says David Coomber, who coordinates the repatriation
operation for IOM. "Refugees are eager to return home and we hope
this new land route will increase our return capacity."

Over the past two months, IOM has assisted more than 2,400
refugees return from Zambia to the DRC. There are currently an
estimated 43,000 refugees from DRC residing in Zambia. Working with
its United Nations partners, IOM aims to assist up to 20,000
Congolese refugees before the onset of the rainy season in
November.

Seed funding for this operation is provided by the IOM-UNHCR
Rapid Response Transportation Fund (RRTF). IOM urgently requires
USD 5.4 million to continue this important repatriation
operation.

Since 2003, the IOM office in Zambia has provided orderly and
safe repatriation assistance to more than 70,000 Angolan refugees
from Zambia and to many other refugees from Burundi, Rwanda, and
Liberia.

For more information, please contact:

Josiah Ogina

IOM Lusaka

Tel: +260 1 25 40 55

E-mail: "mailto:jogina@iom.int">jogina@iom.int