DRC rejects 20 bodies of drowned refugees

BUNDIBUGYO. The DR Congo authorities have rejected 20 bodies of Congolese nationals, who drowned in Lake Albert after a Congolese chief ruled that their culture does not allow burial of bodies beyond 72 hours after their death.

The rejected bodies are part of more than 100 people, mainly Congolese refugees, who on Saturday drowned in Lake Albert after the boat they were travelling in capsized near Kitebere landing site in Kibaale District. They were travelling from Senjojo landing site in Hoima District to Ntoroko District.

They were allegedly escaping from Kyangwali Refugee Camp in Hoima back to the DR Congo through Ntoroko and Bundibugyo districts. The rejected bodies had been transported to Bundibugyo District on Monday for postmortem.

Earlier on, other bodies had been received by their relatives in the DR Congo on Sunday and Monday.

Bodies rejectedBut Chief Samuel Bamukoka of Batalinga in the DR Congo on Tuesday directed the Congolese army and relatives at Busunga border post not to receive more bodies, reasoning that they could not receive them beyond 72 hours after their death.“If we are to bury these bodies, we need clearance from Kinshasa,” chief Bamukoka insisted.

This left the officials from the prime minister’s office stuck with the 20 bodies at Busunga border post until they held a crisis meeting on Wednesday with other stake holders in Bundibugyo Town and resolved to bury the bodies in Uganda at Bubukwanga refugee transit camp. Most of the bodies were already decomposing. In another twist, some officials at Bubukwanga Transit Camp, which is located on land owned by the Uganda Prisons, also rejected the bodies, compounding the situation.

Another crisis meeting was held with Bundibugyo District leaders and it was agreed that the bodies be buried at Bundibugyo Hospital grounds.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor