Thousands escape to Uganda following violent clashes in DR Congo

UNHCRtogether with the Ugandan government and partners, are helping about 10,000 people who have found refuge in the southwestern Kisoro district, after fleeing the violence that began on Monday.

They have arrived from the DRC’s Rutchuru territory, which is less than 10 kilometers from the Bunagana border crossing in Kisoro.

“When people arrived in Uganda on March 28 and 29, artillery fire and gunfire were heard from across the border, indicating that clashes were taking place. Six people arrived with gunshot wounds and were taken for treatment.” sa Joel Boutroue, UNHCR Representative in Uganda.

Thousands displaced in the DRC

In addition, nearly 36,000 Congolese have been displaced within the Democratic Republic of Congo, most of whom are housed by host families or in markets and schools.

Although security conditions make it difficult to reach them, the UNHCR and the World Food Program (WFP) has set up a joint working group to organize the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The UNHCR and Uganda’s Prime Minister’s Office respond to the emergency, in coordination with the district and local authorities, as well as partners.

The agency has already moved around 2,530 asylum seekers to the nearby Nyakabande transit center.

Mr Boutroue reported that heavy rains had made conditions even more difficult for people who had arrived with only the few belongings they could carry.

Many unaccompanied children

While Uganda has currently closed the Bunagana border to trade, it is still open to asylum seekers. Some also enter the country through irregular border crossings.

“We have also observed many unaccompanied children, the elderly and wheelchair users among those fleeing the violence.” he added.

“Most of the new arrivals have protection in and around the market and elsewhere in society. As with many previous incidents, they want to stay close to the border so that they can more easily receive news about what is happening in their villages, in the hope that the violence will end. and they can return home. ”

UNHCR has also established a system to identify and quickly track people in need of emergency assistance.

Lack of funding

The agency praised Uganda for once again welcoming people forced to take root by force. The country receives more refugees than any other nation on the continent.

This year, the UNHCR will need more than $ 343 million to support its operations in Uganda, but so far less than 10 percent of the funding has been received.

At the same time, the humanitarian needs of more than 5.6 million internally displaced persons in the Democratic Republic of Congo are also largely unsatisfied due to lack of funding. The business there, which amounts to about 224 million dollars, is only eight percent financed.

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