Thousands flee clashes in DR Congo's Kivu provinces for western Uganda, UN reports
24 January 2006 – Thousands of Congolese have fled fighting in the Kivu provinces in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to western Uganda, the United Nations reported today.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said about 7,000 of the 20,000 new refugees in Uganda arrived yesterday.
Meanwhile, the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) said its efforts to remove Ugandan Lord Resistance Army (LRA) rebels from the country’s Garamba Park had been called off. Eight Guatemalan peacekeepers were killed and five wounded in a confrontation with the rebels over the weekend and the remaining troops were then withdrawn.
General Patrick Cammaert, MONUC’s Eastern Division Commander, told journalists at UN Headquarters that Garamba Park is “a vast area of jungle with patches of savannah in between. Very, very difficult terrain. You can hide there for years and nobody will ever find you.”
MONUC tries to find LRA members based on information from locals and from the radio. “If we find them, we disarm them and hand them over to the authorities,” the general said.
In a related development, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres called attention to the 20,000 Congolese who have fled to Uganda and warned that, “Different displacement movements are still ongoing in every direction.”
In North Kivu, a UN humanitarian mission said the situation in Kanyabayonga and Lubero was calm after the nearby presence of armed insurgents had caused a massive displacement. Local authorities estimated the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) being sheltered in churches and schools at 50,000.
According to UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond, several thousand of the recently arrived refugees would be housed in Nakivale, an established refugee settlement in Uganda’s Isingoro district, and the agency would build more houses and expand health, sanitation and education services there.
Nakivale is already home to about 16,000 refugees, 70 per cent of whom are Rwandans, according to the agency.
In another development, more than 5,000 of the 8,000 Congolese now at Kisoro, 450 kilometres south-west of Uganda’s capital, Kampala, have asked to be relocated to Nakivale because they fear the lack of security in the Kivus. The refugees at Kisoro have lived for six or seven days in the open, with no shelter, no food aid and insufficient water, Mr. Redmond said.
UNHCR is putting up a small clinic in Kisoro, 10 temporary shelters capable of accommodating 3,000 to 4,000 people, communal latrines and a police post, he said. The agency is also distributing blankets to those in need.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is also supplying high-protein biscuits to people in the area.
In Ishasa border hamlet in Uganda’s Kanungu district, most of the 5,000 refugees there have said they wanted to stay near the border, since some were going home to work during the day but sleeping in Ishasa. Ugandan authorities would start immunizing them today amid fears of a cholera outbreak, Mr. Redmond said.
Uganda is already home to some 208,000 refugees, including 168,800 Sudanese, 20,200 Congolese, and 15,600 Rwandans, UNHCR said.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|