UNHCR and Government of Zambia begin second phase of refugee repatriation to DR Congo


UNHCR and Government of Zambia begin second phase of refugee repatriation to DR Congo

Congolese voluntary repatriation from Zambia, 10 Aug 2022

UNHCR and Government of Zambia begin second phase of refugee repatriation to DR Congo

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA - UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the Zambian government have resumed the voluntary repatriation of Congolese refugees from northern Zambia to Pweto in Haut Katanga province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Today, a convoy of 300 Congolese refugees leaves Mantapala settlement in Nchelenge District of Luapula province for the country’s border with the DRC and will arrive in Pweto, in two days.

The first phase of the voluntary repatriation programme started in the fourth quarter of 2021 but was suspended in January 2022 due to the deterioration of road conditions caused by heavy rains.

The voluntary repatriation is based on a tripartite agreement signed in 2006 by UNHCR and the governments of Zambia and the DRC.

Mantapala settlement hosts approximately 18,700 Congolese refugees, who are amongst 103,028 refugees, asylum seekers, and former refugees hosted in Zambia. Some 63,681 are from the DRC.

Approximately 10,900 Congolese refugees have expressed a desire to return to the DRC by December 2022.

The Government of Zambia has provided firm instructions to support each refugee willing to return home in dignity.

Returning refugees will be assisted with immigration services in the border district of Chiengi. They will spend the night in a transit centre before entering the DRC. The refugees will travel to various locations in the south-eastern part of the DRC, including Pweto, Lubumbashi, and Kasenga in Haut Katanga Province, and Moba and Kalemie in Tanganyika Province.

The voluntary repatriation has been organised by UNHCR and the Governments of Zambia and the DRC, in collaboration with the World Food Programme and Action Africa Help International to assist the returning refugees.

Voluntary Repatriation documents, expedited immigration clearance, health screening, school certificates to allow children to resume their education in the DRC, food, security, first aid supplies, and water, sanitation, and health services at the Transit Centre in Chiengi district are all part of assistance to be provided.

Refugees will receive cash assistance upon arrival in the DRC to help cover basic needs such as personal hygiene items, household items, and initial rent assistance. Additional integration assistance, such as helping children in enrolling in school, will be provided. UNHCR will continue to advocate for and support critical aspects of reintegration into Congolese life, such as security, livelihood assistance, and assistance with important civil documentation.

Returning refugees told UNHCR that they are eager to see their families and friends after they fled political and ethnic violence in the DRC's south-east region in 2017. Over 18,000 Congolese crossed the border into northern Zambia in search of protection.


In Lusaka, Zambia, UNHCR Representation Office, Kelvin Shimoh, , shimo@unhcr.org, +260979585832
In Kawambwa, Zzambia, UNHCR Field Office, Bruce Mulenga, mulenga@unhcr.org, +260977480191
In Pretoria, South Africa, UNHCR Regional Bureau for Southern Africa (RBSA) Pumla Rulashe, rulashe@unhcr.org, +27823775665