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Congolese Refugees Continue To Flood Into Burundi

Thousands Of Congolese Refugees Continue To Flood Into Burundi, UN Says

With thousands of refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) fleeing either sporadic insurgent attacks or fighting against government forces, the United Nations refugee agency is investigating reports today that the number of Congolese encamped in and around its transit sites in neighbouring Burundi has swelled to 17,000.

As of last week, there were some 3,000 Congolese who had recently fled to Burundi, according to the agency. Most of the new refugees are occupying 25 hangars at the Rugomobo transit camp, managed by UNHCR's German partner, GTZ, while centres in Gatumba and Cibitoke each house about 1,500.

A second transit centre on a 10 hectare site in Cibitoke could host more than 20,000 people when preparations are completed, UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told the press in Geneva today.

Ethnic Bafulero and Babembe have been running out of DRC, mainly empty-handed, because of fear of attacks by militias comprising Banyamulenge, or Congolese Tutsi, fighters or because they have been trying to avoid the fighting between the Banyamulenge and Government forces.

Some Banyamulenge have been fleeing Uvira province fearing that they could face revenge attacks similar to those that occurred around Bukavu, south of Uvira, after Tutsi insurgents started fighting in late May and briefly seized Bukavu on 2 June, UNHCR said.

Due to the flood of refugees, the agency might begin to move some people to Songore camp in northern Ngozi Province and Basorwe in northern Muyinga Province this weekend, Ms. Pagonis reported.

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