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Latest update : 2010-03-03

A life in limbo for DRC refugees

Nearly 120,000 displaced people are believed to be taking refuge in northern Congo-Brazzaville, having fled violence in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. Many of these refugees have been here before; some stayed for up to ten years before returning home. But after fighting erupted between the Boba and Lobala ethnic groups in October, the refugees are back.

The province of Likouala in northern Republic of Congo, is home yet again to tens of thousands of refugees from neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees estimates so far that 117,000 thousand refugees have crossed the Ubangi River from the Democratic Republic of Congo into the Betou and Impfondo districts in the north of the Republic of Congo.

Many of these refugees were previously in the Republic of Congo for as long as 10 years. They fled the violence of the DRC’s Civil war and continued instability until DRC’s elections in 2006. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees officially completely their repatriation to DRC in 2008.

But Last October, clashes between the Boba and Lobala ethnic groups over access to farming and fishing rights in the area of Dongo in the DRC has again left many dead, wounded and tens of thousands running back to safety in the Republic of Congo.

While the DRC Government says it is safe to return home, the refugees are doubtful. Yet, living as a Refugee in Republic of Congo, is rife with it’s own challenges.

By Eva Gilliam

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