Fighting between government troops and M23 rebel forces in North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has forced thousands of families to flee their homes into Uganda.
Many crossed the border through Kisoro and travelled 20 kilometres to Nyakabande transit centre, bringing the number of refugees there to over 16,000. From there, many are being relocated 370 kilometres away to Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement in Kamwenge district, which currently has 13,600 refugees.
‘The recent fighting, which was heavy and unexpected, resulted in thousands of people, including many women and children, entering Uganda within a very short time,’ said Riccardo Conti, the head of the delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Uganda. ‘They arrive destitute, because they have to leave everything behind when they flee the country.’
A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) that has been in the African country responding to the Bududa landslide with the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) is currently en route to the Kisoro district. They will assess the need for shelter and other lifesaving equipment for the fleeing Congolese refugee families.
‘Call upon the International Community’
Stephen O. Mallinga is the Minister for Disaster Preparedness, Relief and Refugees in Uganda:
‘The increasing refugee influx into the country is impacting greatly on the meagre resources of the Government and host community. In this regard, I would like to call upon the International Community to urgently mobilise the requisite resources to enhance the government capacity of hosting refugees.’
SRT members Dave Webber (UK) and Fiona McElroy (UK) will be joining the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), World Food Programme (WFP), URCS, Medecins Sans Frontieres and Medical Teams International, who have been providing humanitarian assistance to the refugee families at Nyakabande.
Instability and outbursts of fighting have been ongoing in the DRC. The rebels took up arms last April and named themselves ‘M23’ after a failed peace agreement signed on 23 March three years ago.