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Uganda: Lendu/Hema clashes drive DR Congolese out

Briefing notes

Uganda: Lendu/Hema clashes drive DR Congolese out

23 January 2001

Clashes between ethnic Lendu and Hema communities in north-eastern DR of Congo are driving more people from their homes. In addition to those fleeing into Uganda, an estimated 10,000 Hema have reportedly fled west, towards Kisangani, inside the DRC.

In Uganda, 50 new refugees arrived at the weekend in Kyangwali, south of the border town of Bundibugyo. The refugees, who are mainly Hemas, claimed that the Lendus were targeting them as well as some Lendu moderates accused of being Hema sympathisers. The refugees say the attackers operated in large groups and were armed with guns, spears and bows and arrows.

"They killed my father, my mother, my brother and my kid. They came in large numbers. I ran away during the attack and I later saw my home in flames," one Hema refugee in Kamuga transit camp told UNHCR. The recent fighting is reported to have claimed hundreds of lives in the Ituri area of the DRC. Over the past 10 days, thousands of Hema have flooded into western Uganda, which already host 100,000 internally-displaced persons.

In a bid to avert friction with local farmers, UNHCR and the Ugandan authorities have identified two temporary grazing areas in Chibuki and Mutungamo for the refugees' 25,000 head of cattle. The refugees' herds are also being vaccinated.

UNHCR has moved 6,000 Hema refugees into transit centres in Rwabasengo and Kamuga, in Bundibugyo district, and distributed food and household supplies to the refugees. Before their transfer to the transit centres, some of the refugees were sleeping in the open.