(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Goma rebels expel Burundi nationals

The Rwandan-backed Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie-Goma, currently in control of much of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, has expelled 36 Burundi nationals from the Ubwari Peninsula on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika.

On Thursday, the predominantly second-generation Burundi nationals arrived in the Rumonge area of western Burundi, having crossed the lake, Burundi Radio Publique Africaine reported. The precise reasons for their expulsion remain unclear.

In late December 2001 and early January, 232 Burundians were expelled from the same area, UNHCR spokesman Paul Stromberg told IRIN on Tuesday. Of those, 50 were still in Rumonge, claiming they had nowhere else to go. The others dispersed, probably to where they had originally come from, he said.

Of the 232, 60 families had fled into exile in the Congo in 1965 due to ethnic conflict in Burundi and were, therefore, classified as "refugees"; while the remaining 30 were more recent economic arrivals, Stromberg said.

"The new arrivals may be asked to go to a displaced camp, or they may be helped where they are. UNHCR is having discussions with the Kinshasa government about this, but the problem is that Kabila’s government is not in control of the area," he said.

For the moment, the displaced are being supplied with shelter materials, food for 15 days, blankets, jerry cans and kitchen sets.

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