Saturday, December 4, 2021

Sudan Tribune

Plural news and views on Sudan

66,000 Congolese refugees flee into Uganda

July 16, 2013 (KAMPALA) – The Uganda Red Cross says 66,000 Congolese refugees have fled into the country following an outbreak of violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Congolese refugees arrive at a transit site in Bunagana, a town in the southwest of Uganda (Brigitte Rosotti/MSF)
Congolese refugees arrive at a transit site in Bunagana, a town in the southwest of Uganda (Brigitte Rosotti/MSF)
Last week, the Allied Democratic Force (ADF), a Ugandan rebel group with reported links to Al-Shaabab and Al-Qaeda, attacked and briefly overrun the eastern DRC town of Kamangu before it was re-taken by the Congolese national army.

The fighting sent thousands of refugees pouring into the western Ugandan town of Bundibugyo near the border with DRC.

Ugandan authorities said Tuesday that some of the Congolese had preferred returning back to Congo instead of settling in designated refugee camps in Uganda.

‘‘It is true some of the refugees are returning back to their homes in the Congo but we are helping those that have agreed to settle in the established camps,” Jolly Tibemanya, an official of the Bundibugyo district where the 66,000 Congolese refugees fled, told the Sudan Tribune.

The security situation in Kamangu is reported to be fragile, but a Uganda military spokesperson told the Sudan Tribune that they would into Uganda Congolese refugees in case of fresh fighting ADF rebels and the Congolese army.

‘‘We are guided by international law. If they [Congolese refugees] come back, we shall receive them,’’ Ninsiima Rwemijuma said Tuesday.

A UN Refugee agency (UNHCR) spokesperson said on Monday that the refugees were being provided with assistance.

‘’The UN refugee agency is providing emergency shelter, blankets and other essential relief items to some 66,000 Congolese refugees who have fled fighting for the safety of western Uganda in the last five days,” said Adrian Edwards.

Meanwhile, Hillary Onek, Uganda’s Minister of Internal Affairs told a news conference in Kampala yesterday that his government was ready to talk peace with the rebels.

“War is not desirable and our government is ready with open hands to talk to anyone with grievances, whether it be ADF,” Onek said.

Before the latest influx of Congolese refugees, Uganda already had 210,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers, according to UNCHR, with more than 60% from DRC and the rest from neighbouring countries like South Sudan.

The north western Ugandan towns of Moyo and Adjumani hosted as many as 150,000 South Sudanese refugees between1998 and 2000 before UNHCR began repatriating them in 2006.

ST.