Congolese refugees refuse to be moved into camps

Congolese refugees fetch water at Nyakabande refugee transit camp in Kisoro District last week. PHOTO/ROBERT MUHEREZA

What you need to know:

  • About 17,000 Congolese have been staying at the camp since early last month after fighting erupted in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo)

Hundreds of Congolese refugees at Nyakabande refugee transit camp in Kisoro District have resisted relocation to the settlement camps in Uganda.
About 17,000 Congolese have been staying at the camp since early last month after fighting erupted in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo).

In an interview with this publication on Monday, the commandant at  Nyakabande refugee transit camp, Mr Daniel Kisaamo, said although they are continuing to register Congolese refugees that voluntarily accept to be relocated to the settlement camps, many are hesitant to be relocated as they anticipate that peace may return to their country.

“We have so far relocated about 3,000 Congolese refugees,” Mr Kisaamo said.
Last month, the commissioner-in-charge of refugees at the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr Douglas Asiimwe, said government was willing to accommodate all the refugees at Nyakabande refugee transit camp for at least two months as they monitor the security situation in their home country.
However, some of the Congolese refugees at the camp said they prefer to return to their country because they cannot afford the lifestyle in the refugee settlement camps in Uganda.

“East or West, home is best. I am ready to return home because the security situation is stabilising. Life in refugee camps in a foreign country is not easy. I have property that include crop gardens and other personal business that can benefit my family better than being in a refugee camp,” Mr Kato Kumwami, a refugee, said.
The Kisoro Resident District Commissioner, Mr Shafiq Sekandi, said: “The cumulative number of asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo manually registered since last month to date (May 2) is 20,339 individuals from 10,294 households. A convoy is being planned to transfer some refugees to Nakivale settlement camp this week but many are not willing to go.” 

He added: “The Minister of State for Refugees is expected to visit Kisoro on Friday to assess the refugee situation at the borderline and the transit centre. No fighting has been reported yet on the Congo side for a week and the situation remains calm. Cargo trucks, passenger vehicles and buses are crossing to go to Goma and returning back without any case of insecurity reported.”

VACCINATION
On Saturday, the Kisoro assistant district health officer in charge of maternal child health and vaccination, Mr Annet Dusabe, said about 4,000 Congolese refugees at Nyakabande refugee transit camp were vaccinated against cholera and about 3,000 have been vaccinated against Covid-19 while about 500 refugee children have been vaccinated against polio and measles.
 

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