Cape Times

DRC refugees flood Uganda


KAMPALA: Uganda has received 1 240 new refugee arrivals from neighbouri­ng Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A majority are fleeing arbitrary killings, rape, abductions and looting by the Mai-Mai militia and other armed opposition groups in the explosive North Kivu.

The refugees crossed via Kisoro and Kanungu, bringing the total number of new arrivals to 9 505 since mid-December.

Most crossed the crocodile-infested Lake Albert using rickety boats and others through Uganda’s south-western borders with the DRC.

Earlier this week, heavy fighting between government forces and armed opposition groups intensifie­d in and around Beni town, in North Kivu, raising fears more civilians would flee. North Kivu has been one of the flashpoint­s in military conflicts in the region since 1998.

“Under the prevailing security situation, it is likely that a large number of local Congolese may flee and seek safety in Uganda, given the proximity of Beni to the Ugandan border (about 85km),” said a spokespers­on of the UN High Commission­er for Refugees.

In recent days, the agency has reported congestion at some centres hosting refugees from the DRC.

Health and community services personnel are not sufficient for humanitari­an partners to carry out community outreach activities, including awareness-raising on health issues, prevention and response to sexual and gender based-violence.

Authoritie­s called for the speedy upgrading of new refugee reception centres to accommodat­e new arrivals.

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