Refugees flood Congo-Brazzaville

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The UN refugee agency in Congo-Brazzaville says it is expecting more displaced people to pour in from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

The UN agency says that more than 120,000 refugees are already crammed into camps in Congo-Brazzaville.

They escaped ethnic fighting in the region and have been placed into 90 sites along a 500km stretch of the river Ubangi - the natural border between the two Congos.

Many refugees are saying that they cannot go back to the DR Congo because they fear government forces and rebel militia groups, who the refugees claim are attacking people from their ethnic groups.

DR Congo's massive mineral wealth has drawn in neighbouring countries into the conflict, exacerbating the refugee crisis.

According to the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), more than 1,400 civilians have been murdered this year by both Congolese troops and rebels, sparking Africa's worst refugee crisis.

The UN maintains the world's largest peacekeeping force in the DR Congo with some 19,000 so-called blue helmets deployed in the country.

And yet Fatoumatta Lejeune Kabba, the UNHCR spokesman in Congo-Brazzaville, says that nearly three months into this emergency, not even a quarter of the needs of the refugees have been met.

Al Jazeera's Mohammed Addow reports from Liboko, Congo-Brazzaville, the centre of Africa's worst refugee crisis.

[February 16, 2010]

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