- The troubled Pool region of Congo Brazzaville shows sign of slowly stabilising as civilians now are returning to their destroyed homes. Only this week, some 500 displaced persons voluntarily were returned to the Pool region.
The World Food Programme (WFP) today reported that a group of 255 people - who had been displaced by war in the Pool region of Congo Brazzaville - were returned home on Sunday in a government led effort, supported by UN agencies and non-governmental organisations.
The Congolese Office of Humanitarian Affairs reported that close to 500 internally displaced people in Brazzaville were offered transport home. The government, the UN's development agency UNDP, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), the Congolese Red Cross and WFP were all involved in the voluntary return of all 500 displaced.
At the same time, another 1,500 vulnerable people resident in villages, to which the displaced are being returned, had been given food and non-food aid, WFP says. The UN's food security agency is one of the few international agencies operating in the Pool region, which is chronically instable.
Some 100,000 people had fled fighting in the Pool region in 2002 and 2003 between Brazzaville government troops and Ninja militia loyal to Frederic Bitsangou, alias Pasteur Ntumi.
In November last year, the return of the Pool's civilians, aid by humanitarian organisations and the beginning reconstruction seemed jeopardised by returning insecurity. The French branch of MSF at that stage reported it had to evacuate parts of its staff in the Pool region due to "numerous security incidents".
These "incidents" had included armed attacks on humanitarian workers. According to local civilians, most incidents in October and November had been produced by frustrated government soldiers that had not received salaries or food from the Brazzaville authorities.
Meanwhile, the security situation in the Pool region has somewhat improved, leading to more displaced people returning to their homes and humanitarian agencies resuming their work. According to Patrick Deschamps, an MSF doctor stationed in the Pool, fighting here has left "a landscape of complete desolation."
Since 1998, an estimated 800 000 people were affected by the war in Congo Brazzaville, according to MSF. Thousands of civilians were killed in the fighting, but many more as a consequence of the humanitarian crisis following the armed struggle.
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