Nearly 6,000 Congolese refugees have returned home since December 2021 with support from the UN Refugee Agency-UNHCR-and the governments of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The refugees fled political and inter-ethnic clashes in the DRC’s south-east region in 2017, found safety in Zambia, and have expressed excitement and joy at returning home and look forward to reuniting with family and friends and starting new lives.
UNHCR spokesperson Boris Cheshirkov says children account for nearly 60 percent of the refugees who have been issued voluntary repatriation documents and have received expedited immigration clearance, health screening, security, food, and water prior to returning.
Mr. Cheshirkov said Children born in Zambia were issued birth certificates as proof of their identity, transfer documents issued to school children enabling them to continue their education in the DRC, and those with special needs were supported by caregivers from Zambian authorities.
He said that voluntary repatriation of refugees on buses in weekly convoys of approximately 600 people from Mantapala settlement in Luapula province to Pweto in Katanga province in DRC began in December 2021.