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Democratic Republic of the Congo: Displaced people go home on barges

18-12-1997

Extract from ICRC bulletin, Nr 97/50

It is on board what look like floating villages plying the waters between Kinshasa and Kisangani that the ICRC has taken home many of those displaced during the conflict which brought Laurent Désiré Kabila to power. One of these barge convoys, pulled by the Ketsy and carrying 613 passengers, took 43 days instead of the expected 21 to cover the 1,500 km that separate the two cities. The delay was caused by a shortage of fuel in Mbandaka, the half-way point, and by mechanical problems.

On 5 December, the day before the convoy's arrival in Kisangani, the ICRC sent another boat out to meet the barges and register all the passengers . Because of an outbreak of measles on board, 34 people were taken to hospital immediately on arrival in Kisangani; all the other passengers were vaccinated and the barges were disinfected. Thanks to these measures, the outbreak was contained. 

Now that these displaced people have returned to Kisangani, others originally from Goma, Bukavu and Kindu are to be taken home by plane, boat or train.

The third and final barge convoy between Kinshasa and Kisangani has now arrived at its destination four days ahead of schedule.