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DRC Refugees Continue To Cross Zambian Border - 2003-11-06

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, says refugees continue to cross into neighbouring Zambia from the DRC, as violence continues in parts of the country.

UNHCR spokesperson Kelvin Shimo says each passing day, the humanitarian organization is receiving refugees from the DRC. He says most of them are coming from the eastern part of the Congo.

"n the DRC the political climate, much as there’re reports of positive developments, the situation remains a bit volatile in the eastern part of DRC owing to hostilities between the militia groups. This has resulted in a total of 787 refugees from Congo crossing into Zambia in October."

The new arrivals are being taken to refugee camps in northern Zambia. There’re two camps in the area that include Kala and Kaputa.

Official statistics indicate that Zambia is host to more than 30,000 refugees from the DRC. But humanitarian workers say the number could change as refugees choose to return on their own while others arrive and settle outside designated areas.

In recent days, sporadic fighting has broken out among rival militias in the eastern part of the DRC. Reports suggest that some people have been brutally murdered with machetes while women have been raped and maimed.

A recent report by UN humanitarian workers confirmed similar brutality in the Southern region of the DRC where fighting has subsided.

The report says women between the age of 5 and 80 have been systematically raped, tortured and shot.

Reports of fighting in some parts of the DRC come at a time when the UNHCR is repatriating over 200,000 Angolan refugees and Rwandans back to their home country.