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More than 3,000 Congolese flee to Uganda to escape clashes

News Stories, 27 September 2012

© UNHCR/G.Katende
Congolese refugees arrive in Uganda earlier this year from North Kivu province.

KAMPALA, Uganda, September 27 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency said Thursday that fighting between rebel fighters and a militia group in eastern Congo has forced a reported 3,000 people to flee across the border into southern Uganda's Kanungu district over the past 10 days.

UNHCR, with the support of local authorities, on Wednesday transported around 900 of the new arrivals from the Ishasha and Kihihi border crossing to a newly reopened transit centre at Matanda. The Ugandan Red Cross has registered about 460 there so far.

The refugees at Matanda, mostly women and children, have asked to be moved to a UNHCR-run refugee settlement at Rwamwanja, which opened in April and provides shelter to more than 20,000 Congolese. The refugee agency has set up 30 tents and excavated latrines. Water tanks were due to be brought in today with construction of communal shelters and pitching of more tents also planned.

Non-food aid items are being sent to the transit centre while steps are also under way to reinforce local health services. The World Food Programme is preparing to pre-position food and has set up a temporary warehouse. "Things are moving, but it's not fully active yet," said Sakura Atsumi, UNHCR's deputy representative in Uganda.

The new arrivals fled fighting since September 18 between mainly ethnic Hutu FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) fighters and Mai Mai militiamen, unlike more than 40,000 other Congolese civilians who have left towns and villages in Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC) North Kivu province and headed to Uganda's Kisoro district, just south of Kanungu, since April.

The earlier waves of displacement were triggered by stop-start fighting between Congolese government troops and the M23 rebel movement, which has also left some 220,000 people internally displaced in North Kivu and forced some 20,000 to flee to Rwanda.

UNHCR staff said the earlier heavy fighting from April-July, currently in a lull, had caused a power vacuum in areas of eastern DRC and that's why this latest fighting had erupted as rival groups compete for power. A constant stream of people have been fleeing from violence and human rights violations.

The local authorities and police told UNHCR that an estimated 3,000 refugees had crossed to Kanungu through various border points. Local officials said new arrivals were camped at the Ishasha and Butogota border crossings as well as Kihihi, many awaiting transportation. Others were waiting at smaller crossings.

UNHCR urgently needs extra funds for its operations to assist displaced Congolese in eastern Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. Earlier this month, the refugee agency made a supplementary appeal for almost US$40m million, including some US$20 million for the Uganda operations.

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UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

As a massive food distribution gets underway in six UNHCR-run camps for tens of thousands of internally displaced Congolese in North Kivu, the UN refugee agency continues to hand out desperately needed shelter and household items.

A four-truck UNHCR convoy carrying 33 tonnes of various aid items, including plastic sheeting, blankets, kitchen sets and jerry cans crossed Wednesday from Rwanda into Goma, the capital of the conflict-hit province in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The aid, from regional emergency stockpiles in Tanzania, was scheduled for immediate distribution. The supplies arrived in Goma as the World Food Programme (WFP), with assistance from UNHCR, began distributing food to some 135,000 displaced people in the six camps run by the refugee agency near Goma.

More than 250,000 people have been displaced since the fighting resumed in August in North Kivu. Estimates are that there are now more than 1.3 million displaced people in this province alone.

Posted on 6 November 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

Since 2006, renewed conflict and general insecurity in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo's North Kivu province has forced some 400,000 people to flee their homes – the country's worst displacement crisis since the formal end of the civil war in 2003. In total, there are now some 800,000 people displaced in the province, including those uprooted by previous conflicts.

Hope for the future was raised in January 2008 when the DRC government and rival armed factions signed a peace accord. But the situation remains tense in North Kivu and tens of thousands of people still need help. UNHCR has opened sites for internally displaced people (IDPs) and distributed assistance such as blankets, plastic sheets, soap, jerry cans, firewood and other items to the four camps in the region. Relief items have also been delivered to some of the makeshift sites that have sprung up.

UNHCR staff have been engaged in protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs and other populations at risk across North Kivu.

UNHCR's ninemillion campaign aims to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for nine million refugee children by 2010.

Posted on 28 May 2008

UNHCR/Partners Bring Aid to North Kivu

Uganda: Sudanese Refugees Flee Rebel Attacks

On August 5, 2002, some 24,000 Sudanese refugees fled their homes in Achol-Pii camp in northern Uganda after a bloody attack by the Lord's Liberation Army rebel group. More than 60 refugees and many local villagers were killed in the attack.

Fearing further violence, displaced refugees trekked overnight to Lira, from where UNHCR trucked them to Kiryondongo, 100 km to the south-west. Kiryondongo site, a settlement already hosting 13,000 refugees, was temporarily extended to accommodate the Achol-Pii survivors until another site could be prepared.

Arriving families were initially accommodated at an expanded reception centre at Kiryondongo. After being registered, the new arrivals received UNHCR plastic sheeting, an emergency food ration and a 20 x 15-metre plot per family to build their own temporary shelter. UNHCR also distributed blankets and jerry cans. Additional latrines were also dug, new water pumps installed and a new emergency clinic was set up.

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