Great Lakes Briefing Notes

from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 26 Nov 1996
Goma - Some 1,800 Rwandan refugees crossed into Gisenyi from Sake yesterday. Two thirds of the arrivals came from south Kivu =AD=AD the largest to emerge from that region and cross the Goma=ADGisenyi route. The arrivals from Sake yesterday reported many more refugees were following them. But today, there was no reported movement of people or refugees on the Sake=ADGoma road.
Bukavu - Three trucks are transporting 48 handicapped refugees from Bukavu to Cyangugu today. Yesterday, 774 Rwandan refugees from the Bukavu region returned to Rwanda via Cyangugu. Over the last week, an average of 500 refugees were returning through Cyangugu each day. Since the fighting, 5,000 rwandan refugees have gone back to their country through Cyangugu.

Rwanda - Since the weekend, practically all of the estimated 500,000 returnees in Rwanda have gone back to their communes. There are pockets of refugees in Kigali who have nowhere to go and are in need of assistance, which we are providing.

- Question:

Some say refugee numbers in eastern Zaire are inflated. What is your figure and how did your reach it ?

- Answer:

Before fighting broke out in eastern Zaire last month, UNHCR cared for 719,000 Rwandan and Burundi refugees in five camps in Goma, 307,000 in 22 camps in Bukavu region and 219,000 in Uvira. These figures were based on two registration exercises conducted in Uvira and Bukavu twice over the past two years, with the help of other UN agencies and NGOs and observed by representatives of diplomatic missions. In Goma, UNHCR and its NGO partners were unable to conduct a verification exercise in early September to reconfirm figures taken in a census in February 1995. Refugees boycotted the event. The February 1995 figures however had reconfirmed estimates by UNHCR and WFP taken shortly after refugees flooded into Goma in July 1994. In October, a UNHCR/WFP food assessment mission, in which the European Union and the US participated as observers, verified previous working figures.