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14,000 Congolese refugees move to Ugandan transit centre as tensions rise with locals

News Stories, 18 July 2013

© UNHCR/L.Beck
Congolese refugees outside one of the communal halls where new arrivals are being allocated space.

BUNDIBUGYO, Uganda, July 18 (UNHCR) More than 14,000 Congolese refugees have moved voluntarily to a transit centre in western Uganda's Bundibugyo district but tension is rising between locals and thousands of people still camped in a school closer to the border with Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The transit centre was opened last Sunday by the government and its partners, including UNHCR, to help cope with an influx last week of almost 70,000 Congolese refugees fleeing fighting across the border in North Kivu province between the Allied Democratic Forces, a Ugandan rebel group, and the DRC armed forces. The centre is 30 kms from the border.

UNHCR staff in Bundibugyo said that 14,372 people had registered at the centre by early Thursday afternoon. They included at least 60 unaccompanied minors, mostly male, and all those at the centre moved there voluntarily.

The UN refugee agency's key local partner, the Uganda Red Cross Society, is in charge of managing the centre, which has a capacity for 20,000 people. The new arrivals are being placed in big communal shelters rather than family tents allocated to the earlier arrivals. There are sufficient food supplies for several weeks. The UN Children's Fund has approved a gravity flow system to replace the trucking in of water as demand is growing.

A bigger group of 20,000 to 30,000 people remain camped in and around Butogo Primary School located near the border. Many of these people wish to remain close to the border so that it will be easy to check on their homes and crops during daylight hours, but their presence has started causing tensions with the local community. Thousands more are believed to be staying with host families or sleeping rough or in makeshift shelters. Some are on open land along the border.

UNHCR has been visiting the primary school at Butogo on a daily basis to assess needs, help arrange the transport for those wishing to go to Bundibugyo, and to try and ease the tension.

The government, UNHCR and others have encouraged the refugees to move from the border to Bundibugyo, where they can be registered in more detail and receive proper care. The most vulnerable can be identified at this stage and the relevant protection and assistance given.

In the hills, they lack access to potable water, proper shelter, security and sufficient food and it is also difficult to access them. Moreover, the nights are cold in the hills.

Meanwhile, across the border in North Kivu province, the ADF continue to cause problems in the area around the town of Kamango, which the rebels briefly held last week, and the situation remains unstable.




A Time Between: Moving on from Internal Displacement in Uganda

This document examines the situation of IDPs in Acholiland in northern Uganda, through the stories of individuals who have lived through conflict and displacement.

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.

Uganda: Sudanese Refugees Flee Rebel Attacks

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

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