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Congolese population influx into Uganda

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OCHA - August 29, 2007


On Tuesday 21 August some 10,000 displaced Congolese crossed the border from Rutshuru area in eastern DRC's north Kivu province into the Ugandan district of Kisoro in southwestern Uganda. While the majority numbering approximately 8,500 persons had returned home two days later on 23 August, approximately 1,500 Congolese remained in Uganda, the majority of them being women and children.

1. On Tuesday 21 August some 10,000 displaced Congolese crossed the border from Rutshuru area in eastern DRC's north Kivu province into the Ugandan district of Kisoro in southwestern Uganda. While the majority numbering approximately 8,500 persons had returned home two days later on 23 August, approximately 1,500 Congolese remained in Uganda, the majority of them being women and children. However, the OCHA head of sub-office in Goma said that the return figure of 8,500 to eastern DRC was too high.

2. Confusion is reported with regard to the causes of the refugee outflow with some sources linking it to a MONUC incident where on 21st August, a MONUC patrol returning to Rutushuru from Bunagana was surrounded and stoned by approximately 200 locals accusing MONUC of collaborating with Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) as a result of not taking action against the FDLR. Another reason put forward for the outflow of the population into Uganda is that the refugees were fleeing the recent surge in violence in Rutushuru, North Kivu between rebel leader Laurent Nkunda and FDLR.

3. It remains unclear whether or not the civilian Congolese population was also the target of the insecurity in the east. FDLR exactions on MONUC or MONUC/FARDC ("mixed brigades") exactions on FDLR in the past have usually led to the civilian populations also being targeted in the cross fire.

4. A joint team composed of UNHCR, WFP and Uganda government officials visited southwestern Uganda on 21st August to verify the reports of the influx of at least 10,000 refugees.

5. At present, UN agencies and partners are providing assistance to approximately 350 people, mostly women and children, at Nyakabanda, in Kisoro district. UNHCR has set up four large tents to provide shelter and has erected four pit latrines. UNICEF will provide water to the site, and WHO has agreed to provide essential medicines. WFP has already distributed high energy biscuits (HEB) to the displaced at Nyakabanda and will also provide additional food assistance.

6. On 27th August, head of OCHA North Kivu was quoted saying, "what we fear in the coming months is that if military operations are taking place, we might increase the number of displacement. We've forecast an extra 280,000 displaced persons for the next six months." More than 160,000 people have already been displaced this year in the region's north Kivu province.

7. Local authorities in Uganda expect more displaced Congolese to arrive at Nyakabanda in the coming days however UNHCR Uganda does not anticipate that numbers of displaced into Uganda will be as high, but does have a contingency plan in place if necessary.


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