ZONGO, DR Congo (AFP) – The UN high commissioner for refugees, Antonio Guterres, on Friday met some of the thousands of Central Africans who have fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after rebels seized power in their home country.
Guterres visited Zongo and another nearby town, both of which lie in the DRC across the Ubangi River from the Central African capital of Bangui that fell to the Seleka rebel coalition last month.
More than 4,000 Central Africans live in camps in the two towns, part of an exodus of an estimated 30,000 Central Africans who crossed the border to escape Seleka.
Guterres said he made the trip “to attract donors’ attention to this forgotten crisis in the Central African Republic and to show our solidarity with the people of the DRC who have opened their hearts and their borders.”
Seleka, headed by strongman Michel Djotodia, grabbed Bangui on March 24, ousting president Francois Bozize despite a peace accord signed in January.
Djotodia, under pressure from the ECOWAS grouping of central African states, has created a transitional body to name an interim president for the Central African Republic. Several observers believe Djotodia will be nominated or at least maintain command.
Central African refugees in the DRC complained to AFP that they were getting insufficient food and drinking water, and lacked medical care.
The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in the DRC capital Kinshasa confirmed those problems and said they were being solved. However it stressed that the refugees “absolutely” needed to be relocated from inaccessible zones to facilitate aid.
Guterres was to meet DRC officials in Kinshasa on Saturday before returning to Geneva.