TITLE=CONGO-BENIN REFUGEES L-O
INTRO: Several hundred ethnic Tutsi refugees from
Congo-Kinshasa have arrived in (the West African
country of) Benin. They moved as part of a U-S led
effort to gain temporary asylum for Congolese Tutsis
who have been the victims of ethnic violence in the
war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. V-O-A's John
Pitman reports from our West Africa Bureau.
TEXT: The United Nations refugee agency - U-N-H-C-R -
says 370 ethnic Tutsi refugees from Congo-Kinshasa
have already arrived in Benin.
Benin has agreed to grant temporary asylum to as many
as 500 Tutsis from Congo. They are eventually
expected to be resettled in the United States.
Oumar Bah heads the U-N-H-C-R liaison office in
Benin's capital, Cotonou.
From here (Benin), they will be resettled either
in the United States, or if they have family
links in Belgium, they will go to Belgium.
This resettlement program was launched by the United
States and several other countries after ethnic Tutsis
in Congo came under attack during the early months of
Congo's civil war last year.
Rebels fighting to unseat Congolese President Laurent
Kabila have been backed by Rwanda's Tutsi-dominated
government. As a result, many Congolese Tutsis were
beaten or killed as alleged collaborators or spies.
//OPT// At the height of the anti-Tutsi violence,
Congolese government propaganda actively encouraged
the persecution of Tutsis. The Kinshasa government
denies it officially sanctioned the killing of
Congolese Tutsis. //END OPT//
The Kinshasa government eventually detained thousands
of Tutsis in what it called "protective custody"
centers in the capital and in the southern city of
In all, the U-N-H-C-R's Oumar Bah says up to two-
thousand Congolese Tutsis will benefit from the
resettlement program, although not all of them will be
processed in Benin.
He says those refugees already in Benin will likely be
resettled in the United States or Europe within six
months. After that, he says, it remains unclear
whether - or when - the refugees might return to the
08-Sep-1999 14:54 PM EDT (08-Sep-1999 1854 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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