from OMAN MBIKO in Bangui, Central African Republic
BANGUI, (CAJ News) – MORE than 400 refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) have returned home from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following the easing of tensions in their country.
They are among 4 000 people the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) plans to evacuate by the end of 2020- bringing the total to 7 000 since 2019.
The return of the 474 refugees marks the resumption of the voluntary repatriation operation of refugees after the project was put on hold in March 2020 as the two countries closed their borders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The refugees have in recent days left Mole camp to head to Zongo in South Ubangi Province in northern DRC in two convoys of 20 vehicles including six trucks and three buses.
They continued their journey by boat with a 20-minute ride on the Ubangi River to Bangui, the capital of the CAR.
“The coronavirus pandemic had halted refugee dreams to return home, like many other human aspirations,” Pierre Atchom, UNHCR deputy representative in DRC.
“This resumption of refugee returns marks another chapter in the lives of many refugees. They can go home, embracing their country – putting behind their life in exile.”
Over 600 000 refugees from CAR live in the DRC and other neighboring countries. They fled the civil war that started in 2012.
The political situation in CAR has eased after a peace deal signed by the government and rebel groups in 2019.
– CAJ News