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Over 600 refugees enter Bundibugyo as war escalates in Eastern DRC

Bundibugyo district leadership has settled the refugees at Bubukwanga transit camp. File Photo

Bundibugyo, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | More than 650 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC, fleeing the war in the eastern part of their country have entered Bundibugyo district through Rwamabale sub county in Ntoroko district. The refugees first settled in Burondo, Ntandi town council, Ngamba and Ntotoro sub-counties.

The Bundibugyo district leadership has now settled the refugees at Bubukwanga transit camp in Bubukwanga town council. The LC V chairperson Robert Tibakunirwa says that they have been carrying out a verification exercise to establish all the refugees. He however says that the larger group that entered the district on Saturday and camped in Burondo sub county overwhelmed them.

Acrobert Kiiza, the Bughendera County Member of Parliament says he has already contacted the office of the prime minister to extend relief to the district. He says they are working with Uganda Red Cross Society to mobilize quick relief and help the refugees.

Bundibugyo Deputy Resident District Commissioner-RDC Umar Muhanguzi says the number of refugees could be much more. He says that some of the refugees could be staying with their relatives from where they can always sneak back to the DRC to look for food.

Muhanguzi says that the district is constrained and unable to provide food and health services to the refugees.

Gideon Ndibo, one of the refugees who moved from Mbogha, says the conflict is escalating, saying many people in the village were hacked to death on Saturday. His family and many others left their homes without any property through Lake Albert.

Anita Sangwa, another refuge appeals for relief aid, saying she did not carry any food and clothes for her children.

Bukukwanga transit camp, established in 2013 is home host to Congolese refugees who had fled to Uganda after ADF rebels overran Kamengo town. Within only two days, more than 66,000 refugees had entered Bundibugyo district.

UNHCR says attacks by the ADF, driven out of neighbouring Uganda in the late 1990’s had forced some five million people to flee multiple displacement sites, with 1.7 million displaced in Ituri alone.

ADF is the deadliest of scores of armed groups that roam the mineral-rich eastern DRC. On May 6, the government imposed a state of siege to try to end the bloodshed. Violence has been endemic in DRC’s mineral-rich eastern regions since the official end of the civil war in 2003, but insecurity has soared in the past two years.

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