U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2005 - Congo Brazzaville
|Publisher||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants|
|Publication Date||20 June 2005|
|Cite as||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2005 - Congo Brazzaville , 20 June 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/42c9288d11.html [accessed 17 October 2017]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Refoulement/Asylum The Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) respected the right to asylum. In July, however, local village authorities refouled one refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo-Kinshasa), whom villagers in the northeastern region accused of sorcery. After the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) intervened, the village chief allowed the refugee to return. Article 15 of the Constitution granted the right to asylum. Resolution 8041, issued in 2001, codified the protection against refoulement of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951 Convention) and the 1969 African Refugee Convention.
Resolution 8041 and two decrees issued in 1978 and 1999 established and defined the roles of two government bodies set up in Congo-Brazzaville to process asylum applications and decide claims, respectively: the National Committee for Refugee Assistance and the Refugee Status Eligibility Commission (RSEC). Asylum seekers could appeal within 30 days of a denial, and those with pending claims generally received temporary authorization to remain. UNHCR had one vote of six on RSEC and the Appeal Commission. However, as these were not operational, UNHCR processed and decided cases.
Detention There were no reports that the Government targeted refugees or asylum seekers for detention, but corrupt local officials frequently harassed or detained refugees and nationals alike to extort bribes. The Government did not detain asylum seekers while individual refugee status determinations were pending, and UNHCR provided assistance to many awaiting decision. Resolution 8041 prohibited detention or imprisonment of refugees and asylum seekers for illegal entry and required the Government, through UNHCR, to issue individually recognized refugees, mostly in urban areas, free identity cards valid for five years and renewable. UNHCR conducted a verification exercise and issued temporary registration cards to all refugees. The Constitution provided the right to a fair trial to refugees, but the judiciary functioned poorly.
Right to Earn a Livelihood Refugees with registration or identity cards were able to trade, farm, fish, open businesses, or work for NGOs or private companies, such as a timber company in the northeast region. Local villagers, however, harassed refugees or prevented them from fishing, working, or trading. In the northeast, refugees crossed the Oubangui River into Congo-Kinshasa or traveled north to Bangui in Central African Republic (CAR) to trade or farm. Resolution 8041 specifically accorded refugees the right to work on par with nationals. The Constitution guaranteed the right to own property extended it to refugees by granting foreigners the same rights as nationals.
Freedom of Movement and Residence Refugees with identity or registration cards moved about the country freely and chose their place of residence. About 50,000 lived in small settlements scattered in the northeast along a 300-mile (500-kilometer) stretch of the Oubangui and Congo Rivers, frequently crossing the border into Congo-Kinshasa or CAR. There were no reports of restrictions on movement, but corrupt or misinformed local officials often demanded bribes or payment from traveling refugees and nationals alike. In the Bas-Congo District and Pool region, in response to threat of attack from armed groups, the Government restricted all inhabitants' movement. Resolution 8041 required the Government to issue refugees identity cards along with free travel permits.
Public Relief and Education Refugees living in UNHCR-assisted rural settlements received primary education and public health services. About 16,000 refugees (and returnees) received stipends for secondary and advanced education; school uniforms, books, and supplies; school rehabilitation; and training for refugee teachers. Nearly all children living in the northern region near Betou had access to secondary education, but the program was scheduled to end in 2005. The Government allowed humanitarian aid but provided little support or funding. Early in the year, UNHCR provided healthcare and education to more than 200 CAR refugees who repatriated. Resolution 8041 accorded refugees the same rights as nationals with respect to services, healthcare, and public education.
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) In May, fighting broke out in the Pool region between the Government and rebels loyal to the former prime minister, displacing about 100,000. A cease-fire continued through mid-2004. Armed groups made road travel throughout Pool unsafe. The Government allowed IDPs to work and to travel, but insecurity hindered them.
In early 2004, the Government aided thousands of returnees from the town of Kinkala and the districts of Mbanza-Ndounga, Ngoma Tse Tse, and Kibossi and 1,500 residents in Pool. By May, the Government closed all seven IDP camps after helping more than 2,400 return. Some IDPs returned on their own or moved to Brazzaville.
In September, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned that Pool had an acute humanitarian crisis including poor sanitation, war-ravaged infrastructure, and substandard health and nutrition with many children dying of starvation.
Copyright 2005, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants