Kidnapping of Congolese refugees condemned by UN Refugee Agency

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Congolese refugees. © UNHCR/L.Beck

The kidnapping of Congolese refugees by Ugandan rebels near the border between the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been condemned by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

The agency is calling on the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) to immediately release those who are still in captivity.

UNHCR says that 15 Congolese refugees and one Congolese national were kidnapped by the LRA last Saturday on the DR Congo side of the border where they were tending to their fields.

Cathrine Hasselberg reports.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, thirteen of the Congolese refugees, two women and 11 men, were released two days later.

UNHCR Spokesperson, Karin de Gruijl says the people trekked back to the refugee camp near Zemio in the southeast of the Central African Republic.

"Some of the victims arrived with open wounds and a 16-year old girl had been raped. Three refugee boys are still missing. Zemio refugee camp hosts some 3,400 Congolese refugees from the Ango Territory in Province Orientale in the north-eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2009, they had fled LRA atrocities in the Province Orientale and found refuge in the Central African Republic. This week, however, they were once again victims of violence and torture. " (29")

Ms Gruijl said that upon their arrival, the released refugees were immediately transferred to the health centre in Zemio where they are receiving the necessary medical care.

They are still in shock and anxious to learn about the missing refugees, the UNHCR spokesperson added.

She said UNHCR and its partner, International Medical Corps, have put in place psychosocial counselling sessions to help them cope with this traumatic event.

Cathrine Hasselberg, United Nations.

Duration: 1’18″

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