Monday October 28 2013

500 refugees enter Uganda as fresh fighting erupts in Congo

500 refugees enter Uganda as fresh fighting erupts in Congo

Congolese refugees at Bubukwanga refugee transit centre. Photo by Felix Basiime. 

By Frederic Musisi & Peter Aligo

More than 500 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo have been received in Koboko District since Thursday when the M18 rebel group launched offensive attacks on the local communities.

The refugees, majority women and children entered Uganda through the North Eastern district but the area local leaders say they have not yet received any basic help like shelter, food and medical attention.

By last evening, some of the refugees were being hosted at two primary schools and a Church in Kulube Sub-county while others were seen in Koboko Town Council.

The Uganda Red Cross Society spokesperson, Ms Catherine Ntabadde, told this newspaper yesterday that an assessment of the refugee numbers was still ongoing but the estimates can be put at 2,000.

“We are trying to compile a verification report of their numbers while trying to seek for them help in terms of food, shelter and medicine,” Ms Makumbi said.

The refugees told the Daily Monitor that the M18 rebels allegedly operating in Ariwara and Ombokoro at Uganda-Congo border attacked their homes at the weekend and burnt down their houses.

They also claimed that the rebels ordered them to leave because “we want to occupy this place.”

The Northern Uganda Youth MP, Ms Evelyn Anite, said the situation was worsened by the fact that the refugees majority, Kumuro-speaking people in Congo are related with the Kakwa in Uganda, which forced them to flee in large numbers.

“We are trying to get help from the responsible ministries particularly from health to immunise them before they can mingle with our local population,” Ms Anite added.

Those who have fled to Uganda said some of the colleagues had crossed over to South Sudan.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said yesterday that they will begin relocating the refugees today.

In March, Col Eric Zachariah Ndosa, the alleged fugitive rebel leader of the Congolese M18 rebel group was arrested in Uganda and detained in Arua at the UPDF 409 brigade.

Recently, suspected M18 rebels ambushed businessmen on Uganda-South Sudan road and robbed them of their property.

The Regional Police Spokesperson, Ms Josephine Angucia, said at the time of the incident: “Our intelligence is that some locals are conniving with a group of M18. They came from their hideout, stopped the vehicles and put everyone at gun point, robbed and fled.”