Humanitarian organisations have reported fresh fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with an increasing influx of fresh refugees into Uganda via the Bunagana border point in Western Uganda.
The Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) said the refugees were reporting fresh fighting inside DR Congo and many nationals started entering Uganda, mainly women and children, carrying light luggage and some moving along with animals.
The Uganda Red Cross Society spokesperson, Irene Nakasiita, said their staff had received hundreds of more refugees from Congo who entered Uganda on the evening of Saturday, April 23.
“Our teams at Bunagana have reported an influx and we were handling them, working together with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) that is providing buses that come and take them to Nyakabande Transit Centre,” said Nakasiita, adding that many refugees claimed that they were fleeing from fresh fighting in Congo.
The Nyakabande Refugee camp commandant, Daniel Kisaamo shared a statement indicating that Saturday fighting resumed inside DR Congo between the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) forces and M23 rebels at a place called Chanzu, which is located just 3km from Bunagana border. The statement indicated that heavy gunpower was heard between 4 pm to 7 pm on Saturday.
The statement indicated that Congolese nationals started running into Uganda and at least 369 asylum seekers were received at Nyakabande Transit Center through Bunagana border. Kisaamo said the total number of refugees at Nyakabande had reached 16, 814 by Saturday.
The Kisoro Resident District Commissioner, Hajji Shafik Ssekandi confirmed that at about 4 pm on Saturday, refugees started entering Uganda.
He explained that the war between the DR Congo forces and the rebels started on March 28, 2022, but on April 8, 2022, the two sides declared a cease-fire and negotiations were still ongoing in Nairobi, Kenya.
“But about 4 pm yesterday, (Saturday), fighting erupted in Chanzu, I was at the border at about 1 pm shortly before that and cargo trucks were entering Congo to Goma but when they encountered fighting, they reversed and are now parked at Bunagana border,” Ssekandi said.
He said that by evening at least 369 refugees had been reported but the number could have gone higher during the night because they continued running away from the gunfire.
He expressed fear of the over-congested Nyakabande camp, saying that the camp was hosting over 16,814 refugees, although this week at least 940 were taken to Nyakivale refugee Settlement. “Those who were taken to Nyakivale willingly applied and filled forms but the Nyakabande camp is now overcrowded, we thought the situation had normalized in Congo,” Ssekandi said
Source: Nam News Network