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Congolese Fleeing To Burundi Jumps To 31,000

Number Of Congolese Fleeing To Burundi Jumps To 31,000, UN Reports

Fear of renewed fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has brought the number of refugees in Burundi to 31,000 today from an estimated 25,000 just four days ago, but the deployment of DRC troops along the border area may have discouraged major cross-border movement, the United Nations refugee agency said today.

"The refugees had fled their villages in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo since 9 June, fearing they would be caught in fighting between Congolese government troops and ethnic-Banyamulenge (Tutsi) rebels," the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.

Of the 3,000 refugees in Rwanda, 137 non-Banyamulenges returned to the DRC on Sunday and more were expected today, UNHCR spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis said at a news briefing in Geneva.

The transitional DRC Government recently built up a force of 20,000 troops in the border area to counter the insurgency led by dissident Gen. Laurent Nkunda and Col. Jules Mutebutsi, according to William Lacy Swing, chief of the UN mission (MONUC).

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