1,000 Congolese accept refugee status in Uganda

Congolese refugees disembark from a UNHCR truck on arrival at Nyakabande Refugee Transit Camp in Kisoro District last week. PHOTO/ROBERT MUHEREZA. 

The Government of Uganda, in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), has scheduled tomorrow as the day to relocate about 1,000 Congolese refugees to Nakivale Refugee Settlement Camp after they voluntarily accepted refugee status in Uganda.

The Congolese refugees to be relocated to Nakivale camp in Isingiro District are part of thousands who have been accommodated at Nyakabande Refugee Transit Camp in Kisoro District since last month when M23 rebels attacked bases of Congolese government soldiers in Rutshuru area in the North Kivu Province of the DR Congo.

“On Thursday this week [tomorrow], we are relocating about 1,000 Congolese refugees that have been accommodated at Nyakabande refugee transit camp in Kisoro District to Nakivale refugee camp in Isingiro District after they voluntarily accepted refugee status in Uganda,” 

Mr Daniel Kisaamo, the Nyakabande Refugee Transit Camp settlement commandant under the Office of the Prime Minister, told this publication yesterday that they are soon facing a challenge in accommodating Congolese refugees at Nyakabande because their numbers are increasing on a daily basis.
“For the last six days, we have been receiving an average of about 300 Congolese refugees per day at Nyakabande. On Easter Sunday and Monday, the numbers increased to 546 and 767 respectively. This means we need facilities to accommodate this big number,” he said. 

He added that as of April 18, the transit camp had a total of 15,125 Congolese refugees,” Mr Kisaamo said.
Mr Abel Niwamanya, the Uganda Red Cross Society team leader at Nyakabande Refugee Transit Camp, said plans are underway to get more relief items, including blankets, source pans and sleeping mats to cater for the increasing number of refugees being received at the camp.

“In addition to the 400 family kits we distributed to the Congolese refugees recently, plans are underway to get more to cater for the increasing numbers. We have increased water coverage from 90,000 litres per day to 140,000 litres to cater for the increasing numbers. We have also registered about 342 unaccompanied children, of which 90 of them have been reunited with their parents,” Mr Niwamanya said.

Mr Hitimana Sebarera, Mr Man Mungu and Mr Eric Mbaribuke, all Congolese refugees camped at Nyakabande Transit Camp, recently said they were ready to be relocated to any refugee camp in Uganda.
“I have eight children and a wife. I am tired of fleeing my home crossing into Uganda every time the rebels attack the Congolese government forces in my home area of Bunagana on the Congo side. I am ready to be relocated to any refugee camp in Uganda where I can settle with my family.  We shall return to Congo when it finally stabilises,” Mr Eric Mbaribuke said.

The Kisoro Resident District Commissioner, Mr Shafiq Sekandi, said whereas the district security committee has allowed some Congolese officials to rent and stay in Bunagana border town, they directed that all the Congolese refugees staying in the border communities in Kisoro District relocate to Nyakabande Refugee Transit Camp.

“The Kisoro District security committee members recently asked local leaders in the border communities with DR Congo to ensure all asylum seekers relocate to the Nyakabande Refugee Transit Camp with immediate effect. I am happy that the asylum seekers have complied and this will bring law and order because some refugees had started bad practices such as stealing from their hosts and fighting in bars,” Mr Sekandi said.

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