Displacement & MigrationNews

4,774 Congolese Refugees In Zambia To Return Home

The return is justified by the amelioration of the security situation in part of the former Katanga.

Four thousand, seven hundred and seventy-four nationals of the Democratic Republic of Congo who had in the last four years fled from their conflict-ridden country to neighbouring Zambia, have decided to return home.

According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), 100 of the  refugees have since Dec. 21, 2021 already returned home.

The operation to get the DR Congo refugees in Zambia to return to their country of origin which will continue till next year 2022, is within the context of the continuity of the tripartite accord signed in 2006 by the UNHCR and the governments of Zambia and the DR Congo.

The return is justified by the amelioration of the security situation in part of the former Katanga.

The UNHCR and the World Food Programme (WFP) have provided two trucks to transport the refugees and their personal belongings, as well as food for the journey.

In addition, the returnees will receive an allocation in cash to help them resume their normal life in the DR Congo, the UNHCR has explained in a communique made public Wednesday, Dec. 22.

The refugees would also benefit from some other assistance which includes the provision of voluntary repatriation documents, accelerated immigration treatment facilities, medical examination, and school attestations to enable children resume their studies in the DR Congo.

“Security having improved in certain regions of Haut-Katanga, about 20,000 refugees have spontaneously left Zambia since 2018 to return to their regions of origin, principally in the Pweto territory,”  the UNHCR explained.

“The UNHCR is collaborating with the DR Congo authorities and involves development partners such as the Catholic Relief Services (CARITAS) in the development of reintegration projects, notably in the domains of education, health and agriculture and to guarantee sure and dignified conditions of return.”

About 18,000 Congolese refugees have been living from farming in the Mantapala camp among 5,000 Zambians distributed in eleven integrated villages. 

The camp was created in 2018 to accommodate the refugees who were displaced following inter-ethnic clashes as well as fighting between DR Congo security forces and militia in certain parts of southeast Congo in 2017.

Zambia hosts about 103,028 refugees and asylum seekers as well as former refugees. Among these are 63,681 from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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