U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2002 - Gabon
|Publisher||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants|
|Publication Date||10 June 2002|
|Cite as||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2002 - Gabon , 10 June 2002, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3d04c14e24.html [accessed 1 March 2015]|
Gabon hosted more than 20,000 refugees at the end of 2001, including some 17,000 from Congo-Brazzaville and about 3,000 from more than two dozen other countries.
Refugees from Congo-Brazzaville
Refugees fled to Gabon in 1999 to escape civil war in Congo-Brazzaville. Despite a second year of relative peace in Congo-Brazzaville during 2001, most refugees remained cautious about returning home because interludes of peace have repeatedly been followed by war.
About 90 percent of the Congolese refugee population lived in three southern provinces along Gabon's border with Congo-Brazzaville, primarily in urban areas. Two-fifths of the refugees were younger than age 18, according to statistics compiled by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
A majority of refugees received partial assistance, including food, special rations for malnourished children, tools and seeds for farming, and education benefits. About 80 percent of refugee children attended government schools with stipends from UNHCR to pay for fees, books, and uniforms. UNHCR provided funding to construct ten new classrooms at schools with large refugee enrollments.
Refugees received support to pay for health care. UNHCR prepared to launch an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign among the refugee population, which included distribution of free condoms.
The World Food Program announced in July that it faced a funding shortfall of $300,000 for food to 12,000 Congolese refugees. The agency warned of an imminent "tense and critical situation" if international donors failed to provide 930 tons of food to cover a six-month period.
Gabon's Ministry of Interior asked Congolese military officers seeking asylum in Gabon to return home or leave the country in March for security reasons. UNHCR agreed to seek international resettlement of up to 200 former Congolese soldiers who were in Gabon. More than 30 refugees of various nationalities in Gabon permanently resettled outside the region during the year.
A government process to review asylum claims began to take shape during 2001. The government took initial steps to form a National Commission for Refugees, and UNHCR provided training to the commission's members. At least 500 asylum claims awaited government review at year's end.