Central African refugees back home from DR Congo


After six to seven years of exile in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), hundreds of Central Africans have returned to home, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) announced on Friday.

Most of the Central African refugees had to flee their country to seek refuge in DRC over violence in the Central African Republic (CAR), the UNHCR said in a statement.

The UNHCR helped hundreds of refugees to voluntarily return home “launching the first-ever voluntary repatriation program from DRC for around 172,000 people forcibly displaced from CAR since 2013,” the statement read.

“Some 400 refugees and their belongings left in a convoy of four trucks and light vehicles from Mole refugee camp to Zongo in Sud Ubangi province, northern DRC. They continued their journey by boat to Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic,” the statement added.

According to the UN statement, the voluntary repatriation program has started following a “tripartite agreement signed by UNHCR and the governments of DRC and CAR in July 2019.” Since then, some 4,000 refugees have registered for the program.

“Prior to their return, refugee representatives had visited their areas of origin, witnessing the presence of administrative and security authorities, and of humanitarian and development organizations,” the statement said, explaining that, they have returned to areas “where the situation has improved over past two years.”

Roughly 600,000 CAR refugees are living in DRC as well as other neighboring states, an equal number, meanwhile, remains internally displaced, the UNHCR said.

“Voluntary returns are based on individual refugee decisions and continued protection in hosting countries will be needed for those who do not feel safe to return home,” it added.

The CAR has been wracked by violence, since Seleka rebels ousted then-President Francois Bozize in 2013.

The landlocked country, bordered by Chad, Sudan, Congo and Cameroon has witnessed fierce fighting between the Muslim Seleka and the Christian anti-Balaka rebels for the past six years. It has forced nearly half of country’s population to migrate and depend on the humanitarian assistance, according to the UN.
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