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Bunagana primary school closed to host Congolese refugees

Thousands of Congolese nationals have crossed to the Ugandan side.

Kisoro, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Bunagana primary school in Bunagana town council, Kisoro district is playing host to thousands of Congolese nationals fleeing clashes between suspected members of the March 23 Movement (M23) and Congolese government troops in the chiefdom of Bwisha, Rutshuru territory, North Kivu province.

Heavy fighting erupted in the hills of Runyonyi and Tchanzu in Sabyino mountains of the Virunga ranges, about four kilometres to the Uganda-DR Congo border of Bunagana in Kisoro district at around 4am on Monday morning.

Suspected M23 rebels have reportedly captured three army barracks in Rutchuru territory about two kilometres from the DR Congo-Uganda border. The fighting forced thousands of Congolese nationals in the area, especially from the villages of Mukinga, Rubona, and Tcheya to flee to the Ugandan side while others fled towards Rutchuru town.

Emmanuel Mwunvaneza, Kisoro District Education Officer says that they have been forced to close the school following an emergency meeting by the District Security Committee and other stakeholders to provide space for the refugees.

He says that they reached the decision after realizing the high number of refugees yet Bunagana town council especially in the market where they were converging has no facilities like toilets and water.

He says that the school will resume normal operations once the situation returns to normal in DRC or when they get where to accommodate the refugees. Mwunvaneza however expressed concern that the refugees may destroy school furniture for firewood.

Captain Peter Mugisha, the outgoing Kisoro Resident District Commissioner says that efforts are still underway to see how the refugees are transported from Bunagana to the Nyakabande refugee transit camp.

He however says that they are still facing challenges because some of the refugees are hesitant to go to Nyakabande refugee transit camp.

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