Hundreds of Congolese flee to western Uganda after fresh fighting

Fresh fighting in eastern Congo has forced hundreds of people to cross to neighbouring Uganda to seek refuge.

Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS), a local humanitarian agency, said on Sunday that among the new arrivals include those who had returned recently thinking the situation was getting better, Xinhua news agency reported.

Irene Nakasiita, URCS spokesperson, said it is not yet possible to estimate the number of asylum seekers who crossed to Uganda through the border town of Bunagana on Saturday.

Esther Anyakun, Minister of State for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, told Xinhua by telephone preparations were in high gear to receive the refugees.

“According to the reports we have so far received, there are many, many refugees who have re-entered the country. The World Food Programme is already on the ground to offer some support,” Anyakun said.

She added that government was in the process of relocating the previous entrants from holding centres to resettlement camps and with the re-entrance of more refugees, they will have to work faster.

“They rushed to return home, because the situation was not yet stable. We had given some of them transport to go to resettlement camps but they opted to return home. Now you can see they have come back to Uganda,” Anyakun said.

She added that the UN Refugee Agency had dispatched a team to offer humanitarian assistance to the refugees.

“Over 1,000 Congolese refugees have already crossed into Uganda following fresh fights between the M23 rebels and the Congolese government forces. They are currently camped at Bunagana border town in Kisoro district,” Ismail Ndayambaje, a local leader, told Daily Monitor, a Ugandan independent daily newspaper.

“We appeal to the humanitarian organisations in liaison with the office of the Prime Minister to transport these refugees straight to Nyakabande refugee transit camp where they can be accommodated. We faced a lot of challenges as we accommodated them here at Bunagana town council in March this year when they crossed into Kisoro district because of similar fights,” Ndayambaje added.

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