- The repatriation of hundreds of Congolese refugees in Zambia resumed at the weekend, with International Organization for Migration (IOM) facilitating the return of 800 refugees in Zambia's northern provinces.
The returning refugees journeyed a 600 kilometre overland to Mpulungu harbour, the southern shores of Lake Tanganyika. They spent the night in a transit centre managed by the Zambian Red Cross in Mpulungu before boarding a UNHCR chartered ship for the final leg of their journey to Moba, in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Eastern Kantanga province, IOM said.
Upon arrival, the returnees were not only met by UNHCR staff, but were also given two months food rations by the World Food Programme. They were also provided seeds and agricultural tools by the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization.
"Thirty four boat rotations between Mpulungu and Moba are planned before the onset of the rainy season in December to assist some of 19,400 Congolese refugees who have so far declared their intention to return to Eastern DRC after having spent the last decade in camps in Northern Zambia," IOM officials said, announcing the resumption of returns by land via the border town of Pweto in the coming weeks.
In 2007, more than 7,000 refugees were helped by IOM Zambia and its partners to return to their homes in the DRC. They were supported by funds from the US government through the Bureau of Population, Refugee and Migration and (PRM) the European Commission Humanitarian Aid department.
IOM is currently seeking US $2.88 million to carry out this year’s return operation. It has so far received funding pledges worth US $2.4 million from the EC and carry over funds from PRM amounting to US $300,000
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