DRC-UGANDA: More people flee from North Kivu to Uganda

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Some 13,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo have crossed the border into Uganda – including 5,000 since 22 October – fleeing violence in North Kivu province.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), up to 800 people have been arriving at Bunagana, a Ugandan border post, every day since 19 October.

UNHCR spokeswoman in Kampala Robertta Russo said the agency has been making preparations for the relocation of the rapidly-growing refugee population from the reception centre at Nyakabanda, 15km from the border, to Nakivale, an established camp about 300km away.

"Many people are willing to be relocated to Nakivale and we are preparing to start relocating them," Russo told IRIN.

Adan Ilmi, the UNHCR official leading the emergency operation, said in a statement: "In a few hours, 1,000 people have come forward asking to be transferred to Nakivale. We will continue with their registration and start transporting them. Many said they are worn out by successive waves of displacement from their homes and prefer to wait longer for peace to return to North Kivu."

Russo said the reception centre was hosting some 12,000 refugees - many of them displaced several times during the past two years.

In August and September an estimated 30,000 people fled into Uganda to escape violence. They however returned after fighting died down.

Most of the newly arrived refugees have been displaced from Rutshuru district of North Kivu.

The latest fighting in the region has mainly pitted renegade soldiers loyal to dissident General Laurent Nkunda against government troops. Clashes have escalated since September.

UN estimates say violence has forced at least 370,000 civilians in the region to flee their homes since December 2006.

Source: IRIN