INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Update On Drc Refugee Repatriation and Recent

Published: Wed 25 Aug 2004 08:31 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 001600
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINS PREL CG PRM
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON DRC REFUGEE REPATRIATION AND RECENT
INTERNAL DISPLACEMENTS
1. (U) Summary. UNHCR plans to transfer survivors from the
Gatumba massacre in Burundi to camps away from the DRC border
within 10 days. In the meantime, the Burundian government has
strengthened security in the Gatumba school where these
refugees are being housed. It is unlikely that Congolese
refugees will return from Rwanda or Burundi until the
volatile situation in South Kivu improves. Repatriation of
Angolan refugees is proceeding well, while expulsion of
undocumented Congolese miners from Angola has resumed in a
more orderly fashion. The UN reports that over 120,000
civilians have been internally displaced in the DRC during
the past several months as a result of insecurity and clashes
involving various armed groups and in some instances FARDC
forces in North and South Kivu, and Orientale Province. End
Summary.
Congolese Refugees from Gatumba to be Moved Inland
--------------------------------------------- -----
2. (U) Poloff met with acting UNHCR representative for the
DRC, Mohamed Dayri, August 23, to discuss the situation of
Congolese refugees at Gatumba, Burundi. Dayri said that at
the time of the massacre on August 13, there were
approximately 800 refugees at the Gatumba camp. Following
this incident, survivors have been relocated to a nearby
school in Gatumba pending transfer to refugee camps in Banya,
near Bujumbura and Rutana, near the Tanzanian border. This
transfer is expected to take place within the next ten days.
In the meantime, the Burundian government has increased its
military presence in Gatumba to improve security.
3. (U) Dayri indicated that at the time of the massacre of
Congolese refugees there were only nine officers at the camp
to provide security. He noted that under UN Security Council
resolutions 1208 and 1296, host countries are responsible for
providing physical protection to refugees.
Refugees in Rwanda and Burundi Unlikely to Return to DRC Soon
--------------------------------------------- ----------------
4. (U) UNHCR-Kinshasa estimates that there are about 3,000
Congolese refugees at the Cyangungu Transit center in Rwanda
who fled fighting in Bukavu during the months of May and
June. There are also over 30,000 Congolese refugees in
Burundi who fled during the month of June. Despite recent
pleas by DRC Vice-President Azarias Ruberwa for the return of
these refugees, UNHCR thinks that it is unlikely that most
refugees will return to the DRC from Rwanda and Burundi while
the situation in South Kivu remains volatile. However, a
small number of Banyamulenge refugees who fled from Bukavu
have expressed interest in returning to the predominantly
Banyamulenge area of Minembwe, South Kivu.
Expulsion of Undocumented Congolese Miners from Angola Resumes
--------------------------------------------- -----------------
5. (U) UNHCR indicated that the Angolan government resumed
expulsion of undocumented Congolese diamond miners July 16.
Since then, approximately 60,000 people have crossed the
border into the Congo. However, unlike the 60,000 that were
expelled between December and May, this new wave of
expulsions have been conducted in an orderly fashion. UNHCR
has not received any reports of abuse or harassment. Although
UNHCR does not normally work with this type of population
since they are not considered refugees, but undocumented
immigrants, they have provided humanitarian assistance,
mainly in the form of transportation. This has been done in
an effort to avoid negative reactions from the Congolese such
as those which took place during the earlier expulsions.
Repatriation of Angolans in DRC Going Well
------------------------------------------
6. (U) According to Dayri, the repatriation of Angolan
refugees in the DRC is proceeding smoothly. Since
repatriation started in July, over 6,000 people have been
repatriated by UNHCR from Bas-Congo and Katanga provinces.
This repatriation will continue until the rainy season makes
the roads impassable. UNHCR's goal is to have repatriated
32,000 Angolans by the end of the year. This will leave
approximately 13,000 Angolans to be repatriated in 2005.
Dayri noted that repatriation of Angolans from Bandundu will
be more difficult since they come from the Angolan provinces
of Malange and Lunda, where the necessary de-mining has yet
to be done.
7. (U) Dayri indicated that 215 Angolan urban refugees from
Kinshasa were successfully repatriated back to Luanda August
22. UNHCR spent 18 months negotiating this complicated
repatriation with the Angolan government, which has been
reluctant to repatriate refugees to the capital. UNHCR hopes
to repatriate another group of 200 urban refugees to Luanda
by the end of this year.
Prospects for Sudanese Refugees in DRC
--------------------------------------
8. (U) Dayri indicated that UNHCR is hoping to start the
repatriation of approximately 30,000 Sudanese refugees in
October or November; 11,000 have already been registered, the
remainder are scattered in Northern Orientale Province where
they are engaged in trade and agricultural activities.
120,000 New IDPs in North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri
--------------------------------------------- -------
9. (U) Poloff met with Noel Tsekouras, humanitarian affairs
officer with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA) August 23, to discuss the current situation of
internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the DRC. According to
Noel, as of August 2004, there are an estimated 2,329,000
IDPs in the country. OCHA also estimates that approximately
725,000 IDPs have returned to their areas of original
displacement over the past several months. The largest areas
of IDPs remain North Kivu with 785,000, Province Orientale
with 455,000, Katanga with 365,000 and South Kivu with
254,000.
10. (U) According to OCHA, the most significant new
displacements of civilians in the past few months have taken
place in North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri. In North Kivu,
OCHA estimates that 35,000-55,000 people were displaced
during the preceding eight months, primarily in the areas of
Ruthsuru, Masisi and Walikale. Most of this displacement has
been due to clashes involving Rwandan Hutu armed groups
(Interhamwe-FDLR) and FARDC's 8th military region. In South
Kivu, approximately 30,000 people were displaced south of
Kalehe during the month of July. An additional 6,000 were
displaced north of this area during the same period. Most of
these displacements were a result of fear of clashes between
dissident RCD-G General Laurent Nkunda and FARDC troops. OCHA
coordinated humanitarian assistance to both groups. In
Province Orientale, Ituri District, approximately 30,000
people were displaced in Mahagi following fighting between
the Nationalist Integrationist Front (FNI) and the Popular
Armed Forces of the Congo (FAPC) militias. Due to security
concerns and inaccessible terrain, OCHA has relied on NGOs
already in the area to provide assistance to IDPs in North
Kivu and Orientale Province.
Comment
-------
11. (U) UNHCR has been successfully repatriating Angolan
refugees over the past several weeks, while at the same time
assisting undocumented Congolese expelled from Angola.
UNHCR's constructive engagement with DRC and Angolan
authorities has lessened tensions and resulted in a more
humane process for the return of both populations. The
situation of Congolese refugees in Rwanda and Burundi, on the
other hand, is much more complex. UNHCR-Kinshasa will have to
work closely with offices in Kigali and Bujumbura to ensure
the protection of these refugees until conditions are
appropriate for repatriation and to lessen their possible
political manipulation by regional actors.
12. (U) Instability in the east over the past several months
has resulted in new IDPs in the Kivus and Ituri. UN agencies
and NGOs have been hard pressed to provide humanitarian
assistance to the majority of these people due to insecurity
and inaccessible of areas of displacement. New IDP movements
only complicate an already dire humanitarian situation in the
east. UN agencies, NGOs and the GDRC should coordinate
efforts to provide emergency assistance and as the security
situation in areas of displacement improves, should encourage
and assist IDPs to return to their areas of origin. To
address the IDP situation in the longer term it will be
necessary to demobilize armed groups, create a unified
national army, and re-establish state authority in the east.
MEECE
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