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Congo Ready to Settle Displaced People, Says Government Spokesman

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VOA News - September 10, 2009
Refugiés congolais au Nord-Kivu

The Democratic Republic of Congo says it will re-integrate Internally Displaced People (IDP) into society after the United Nations closes camps in the restive Kivu provinces. 

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees announced that it will be closing IDP camps this week after a sharp drop of violence in Kivu. 

The UN agency also conducted a thorough interview with IDP's who expressed the need to return to their homes.

But political observers express worry the government is ill-prepared to provide adequate security because of the presence of armed groups in the area. 

Government spokesman Lambert Mende said that his government has budgeted for financial and logistical support for the returning displaced Congolese.

"Of course we are ready… the government has approved the move of the NGO'S (Non-Governmental Organizations) and the internationally agencies to close these camps because people are going back home and the numbers of those remaining were very, very low," Mende said.

He said the presence of remnants of armed groups in the area Kinshasa will provide adequate security for the returnees.

"The government is well aware of the location of those remnants elements they are not all over the provinces… there are a lot of other places that are secured by the army (and) police," he said.

Mende denied reports that the displaced returnees were forced out of the camps.

"They came by their own will and they are going back (home) by their own will. Nobody is forced to leave a camp, but of course they found life very harsh in the camps," Mende said.

He said there is need for the displaced persons to return to the life they know.

"They have to go back to their place to be digging to be doing their jobs and to be working. And that is what is being done now," he said.

Mende said Kinshasa will help settle the returning refugees.

"The government has budgeted some amount and has already prepared the means like crops like animals to help those who are engaged in agricultural activities to resume their activities," Mende said.

He said the international community has also pledged help to settle the returning refugees.

Frequent clashes between government troops and various armed groups in the restive Kivu provinces led to thousands of Congolese fleeing into IDP camps.

The camps were administered by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees with the help of other Non-governmental organizations.

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