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DATE=7/20/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-251963 TITLE=CONGO BRAZZAVILLE REFUGEES (L-ONLY) BYLINE=LISA SCHLEIN DATELINE=GENEVA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: THE UNITED NATIONS REFUGEE AGENCY SAYS THERE HAS BEEN A DRAMATIC INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REFUGEES FLEEING CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE FOR NEIGHBORING GABON. LISA SCHLEIN IN GENEVA REPORTS THE U-N AGENCY SAYS THE NUMBER OF ARRIVALS HAS CLIMBED FROM 15-HUNDRED TO AN ESTIMATED 20-THOUSAND IN JUST TWO WEEKS. TEXT: THE U-N REFUGEE AGENCY SAYS THERE HAS BEEN AN SURGE IN FIGHTING BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND REBELS IN POINTE NOIRE, NEAR THE GABON BORDER. IT SAYS THE INTENSITY OF THE ATTACKS IS DRIVING THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE FROM THEIR FOREST RETREATS, AND THEY ARE HEADING FOR SAFETY IN GABON. U-N-H-C-R SPOKESMAN, PAUL STROMBERG SAYS MOST OF THE REFUGEES ARE WOMEN, CHILDREN, AND THE ELDERLY. HE SAYS ONLY A VERY SMALL NUMBER OF YOUNG MEN ARE AMONG THE REFUGEES. /// STROMBERG ACT /// PEOPLE ARE TAXED BY THE REBELS IN ORDER TO LEAVE. THAT IS THE WAY THEY HAVE OF GETTING MONEY AND OF KEEPING PEOPLE ON HAND TO HELP THEM OR TO USE THEM AS HUMAN SHIELDS. THESE PEOPLE SAY THAT THERE MAY BE MORE ON THE WAY, THAT THERE ARE MANY MORE IN THE FOREST. AND AS THE FIGHTING CONTINUES, WE MAY SEE MORE OF THEM. /// END ACT /// MR. STROMBERG SAYS MANY OF THE REFUGEES ARE EXTREMELY MALNOURISHED, AFTER LIVING FOR A LONG TIME IN THE FOREST WHERE FOOD IS SCARCE. HE SAYS GABON IS NOT USED TO HAVING REFUGEES ON ITS DOORSTEP AND IS ILL-EQUIPPED TO CARE FOR THEM. THE U-N SPOKESMAN SAYS MANY OF THE CONGOLESE REFUGEES ARE GATHERED IN LARGE SITES THAT HOLD UP TO TWO-THOUSAND PEOPLE. SOME ARE SLEEPING OUTSIDE OR ARE CROWDED INTO SHELTERS THEY HAVE BUILT THEMSELVES. MR. STROMBERG SAYS THE LUCKY ONES ARE LIVING WITH LOCAL VILLAGERS WITH WHOM THEY HAVE TRIBAL AFFINITIES. HE SAYS OTHERS ARE HEADING FOR SOME OF GABON'S URBAN CENTERS. /// STROMBERG ACT /// OUR FIRST GOAL WILL BE TO SET UP SOME TEMPORARY SHELTERS OR SITES TO GIVE THEM ADEQUATE DRINKING WATER AND TO BRING IN MORE EMERGENCY AID. THE AID WE BROUGHT IN AT FIRST WAS FOR ABOUT 15-HUNDRED PEOPLE. WE WILL HAVE TO TAKE IN MORE MEDICATION, MORE BLANKETS AND MORE FOOD, WHICH WILL HAVE TO BE PURCHASED LOCALLY UNTIL MORE ADEQUATE RELIEF SYSTEMS CAN BE SET UP IN THESE BORDER AREAS. /// END ACT /// THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION AND UNICEF, THE U-N CHILDREN'S FUND, ARE PLANNING TO VACCINATE THE MOST VULNERABLE RECENT ARRIVALS. THE LOCAL RED CROSS WILL HELP WITH THE DISTRIBUTION OF RELIEF ITEMS. THE GROUP, "DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS", IS SENDING A TEAM FROM PARIS TO EVALUATE THE REFUGEE SITUATION. (SIGNED) NEB/LS/GE/RAE 20-Jul-99 12:01 PM EDT (1601 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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