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Video: CAR refugees find comfort with Congo relatives

© FRANCE 24

Video by Nicolas GERMAIN , Mehdi MEDDEB

Text by Thomas HUBERT

Latest update : 2014-01-30

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, FRANCE 24 visited one of the families hosting the tens of thousands of civilians who have fled violence in the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR).

In humanitarian jargon, Sylvain is a “pendulum refugee” – crossing the Oubangui river back and forth between Bangui, the capital of the war-torn Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where most of his family came to seek refuge three weeks ago.

“I’m very happy to see them again,” Sylvain told FRANCE 24 as he was reunited with them. He had lost track of them in the chaos of the Central African Republic and only recently heard they were staying with relatives in the town of Zongo.

Hunched over pots of steaming beans and plantain bananas, his Congolese cousin Wivine is doing her best to cope with the additional mouths to feed. “There is war in their country, we have to receive them here – that’s normal,” she said. “We greet our brothers, it’s hard to welcome them because we don’t have enough food but we find ways.”

According to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, around 65,000 from the Central African Republic have fled to neighbouring countries since their country descended into civil war last year – the vast majority of them to DR Congo. Another 450,000 are displaced within CAR.

Wivine said that if conflict broke out again in Congo, she too would expect to find refuge with her relatives abroad.

Successive wars in the region have made refugee movements a regular occurrence along the Oubangui river.

Four years ago, Zongo itself was a ghost town after violence between two local tribes forced tens of thousands of residents from their homes – that time mostly to the Republic of Congo, also known as Congo-Brazzaville.

Date created : 2014-01-30

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