Thousands of Refugees flee from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Zambia

Congolese refugee Chipile erects a makeshift shelter in the sweltering heat in Zambia. Photo: UNHCR/Pumla Rulashe
Congolese refugee Chipile erects a makeshift shelter in the sweltering heat in Zambia. Photo: UNHCR/Pumla Rulashe

Thousands of refugees have been fleeing from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported tens of thousands of refugees are being forced to flee from Congo to Zambia.

Most of the displaced refugees are said to be children who are seeking shelter in the neighboring Zambia where already thousands of refugees took shelter.

Many of the central African countries have been dealing with severe refugee crisis amid political violence and political turbulence.

Chipile smiles after UNHCR staff helped him to build a shelter. Photo: UNHCR/Pumla Rulashe
Chipile smiles after UNHCR staff helped him to build a shelter. Photo: UNHCR/Pumla Rulashe

Kalembe Kasese Edeefonse, a refugee, being separated from his wife on his way to Zambia told Al Jazeera “People are dying; their hands and heads were cut off with machetes. Pregnant women had their unborn kids cut out of their tummies. They burned our homes, they burned our crops. I said, ‘If we stay here we will die.”

The UNHCR representative to the region told Al Jazeera in an interview, “Some have been displaced more than once, and some even have been refugees in Zambia before and had repatriated in the hope that it would be secure and safe for them to stay, but they have been displaced yet again.”

According to the UNCHR report, around a hundred people get to the Zambian safety every day and 60 percent of these displaced refugees are children.

The UNHCR reported on its website that it “is currently working with the government of Zambia, local authorities and partners on the ground to provide core relief items such as tents, plastic sheeting, mosquito nets, blankets and hygiene kits. Temporary shelters have been erected, boreholes drilled to provide potable water and temporary latrines constructed. But more help is urgently needed.”

The Democratic Republic of Congo and its neighboring countries in maps
The Democratic Republic of Congo and its neighboring countries in maps

It says,“Zambia is currently hosting some 60,600 refugees and other persons of concern to UNHCR, including some 27,400 from the DRC. Some 5,761 Congolese asylum seekers have been registered in Zambia this year alone.”

Pierrine Aylara, the UNHCR Representative in Zambia praised the Zambian government that the country “has remained exemplary in its obligations towards refugees.”

Aylara asked for more help from international community and the donors cause “UNHCR cannot do it alone, neither can the government – however, with collaborative efforts and donor support, we have every confidence that by the time seasonal rains intensify, we will have the development of these two sites well underway and ready enough for occupation.”


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