United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1998 - Gabon, 1 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a8bc4a.html [accessed 27 February 2017]
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Gabon hosted nearly 1,000 refugees at the end of 1997, primarily from Chad, Mauritania, Equatorial Guinea, and Angola. Gabon committed refoulement, the forced return of refugees, at least twice during 1997, expelling Rwandan, Equatorial Guinean, and Burundian refugees. Rwandans In June and July, hundreds of Rwandans arrived in Gabon from neighboring Congo-Brazzaville. The Rwandans, many of them former soldiers of Rwanda's genocide-era government, fled from Zaire (later renamed Democratic Republic of Congo) to Congo-Brazzaville, where they remained temporarily. The outbreak of civil war in Congo-Brazzaville in June, however, forced the Rwandans to flee again, this time to Gabon. By late July, UNHCR registered about 1,300 Rwandans in Gabon. Most of the Rwandans agreed to repatriate. UNHCR organized a repatriation operation that returned more than 1,000 Rwandans to Kigali, the Rwandan capital. Gabon, however, prevented UNHCR from completely screening a group of people, primarily Rwandans, who refused to repatriate. Gabonese authorities instead forced 168 people onto military planes and returned them to Rwanda. The group returned included eight UNHCR-recognized refugees: seven Rwandans and one Burundian. Gabon's actions constituted "a flagrant violation of the most basic human rights and humanitarian principles," said High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata. Although Rwanda processed as "normal" returnees some 45 members of the group, including 7 of the 8 UNHCR-recognized refugees, the authorities handcuffed and took to an undisclosed location more than 100 people, including 1 UNHCR-recognized Burundian refugee, UNHCR reported. Equatorial Guineans Gabon also forcibly repatriated to Equatorial Guinea two UNHCR-registered refugees, the U.S. Department of State reported. Gabon arrested the two men in November and used President Omar Bongo's plane to return them to Equatorial Guinea, the State Department said. The men were reportedly briefly detained in Equatorial Guinea, then released.