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Uganda: Recent Congolese arrivals moved away from the border

Briefing notes

Uganda: Recent Congolese arrivals moved away from the border

27 January 2006 Also available in:

UNHCR has moved more than 1,100 Congolese refugees, who arrived in Uganda last week after fleeing fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to two refugee settlements at a safe distance from the border.

More than 950 people have now arrived at the Nakivale refugee settlement, located in the Isingoro district of Uganda some 220 km south-west of Kampala. A small group of 66 people with special needs - mostly disabled and pregnant women - arrived at the settlement on Wednesday, followed on Thursday by a group of 898 refugees whom UNHCR moved from the border district of Kisoro. UNHCR expects to move more refugees from the border to Nakivale in the next few days.

UNHCR and the Ugandan authorities have been working around the clock to prepare Nakivale settlement to receive several thousands of newcomers. Nakivale is already home to about 16,000 refugees - 70 percent of them Rwandans - and although space is not a problem, water supplies are limited and more houses need to be built. A reception centre and a small mobile clinic have been set up and staff has been deployed to receive the newcomers.

Further to the north, another group of 201 refugees were taken Thursday from the border hamlet of Ishasha, in the district of Kanungu, to the existing settlement of Kyaka II. The vast majority of the 5,000 Congolese who congregated in Ishasha last week have now gone back to their homes in the north Kivu province of DRC, where fighting appears to have abated. However, the Ugandan authorities informed us today that some 50 people arrived overnight in Ishasha.

In total, some 20,000 Congolese crossed the border into Uganda last week. The largest group of some 15,000 people arrived in Nyakabanda in Kisoro district, some 450 kilometres south-west of Kampala. UNHCR has set up a small clinic in Nyakabanda as well as fourteen temporary shelters, enough to house all the newcomers, many of whom have now crossed back into DRC.

Cross-border movements continued this week, with 2,000 refugees arriving in Nyakabanda overnight on Wednesday only to cross the border again on Thursday. Because of all these movements, it is difficult to estimate how many refugees were still in the area after Thursday's transfer of almost 900 people to Nakivale.

Uganda is already home to some 208,000 refugees, including 168,800 Sudanese, 20,200 Congolese, and 15,600 Rwandans. The refugee agency remains concerned about the volatile situation in the eastern part of DRC and its effect on the population. As well as people fleeing across the border, large numbers of people are reported to have been internally displaced because of recent fighting in eastern Congo - notably in north Kivu province. The vast majority of DRC's 1.6 million internally displaced persons are in the eastern provinces.