What you need to know:
- Whereas security assurances came at the backend of last week, some war-weary refugees still consider their villages in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo unsafe. Others like Juman Amaani, a boda boda operator at Kyengyerero trading centre in Bunagana Town on the Congo side, were happy to return.
Thousands of Congolese refugees that pitched camp at Bunagana border town in Kisoro District for almost one week have started returning to their native country.
Sunday Monitor also understands that others have voluntarily accepted to be relocated to refugee camps in Uganda.
This comes after fighting erupted between the M23 rebels and the Congolese government forces early last week.
Whereas security assurances came at the backend of last week, some war-weary refugees still consider their villages in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo unsafe. Others like Juman Amaani, a boda boda operator at Kyengyerero trading centre in Bunagana Town on the Congo side, were happy to return.
“I could not go to the refugee camps in Uganda because I am told that refugee life is not easy,” he said, adding, “I am happy to return home with my five children and wife. Although we are not yet sure about the normalised security situation, it’s better than going to the Ugandan refugee camps.”
On his part, Eric Mbaribuke—a father of eight—said he was staying put because “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.”
He added: “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.”
Abel Bizimana, the Kisoro District LC5 chairman, asked the government of Uganda to stop categorising Kisoro as a transit district.
“I appeal to the government to give us special funding as it does to other refugee hosting districts because the issue of Congolese refugees has now become a usual event,” Mr Bizimana said.
Mr Ismail Ndayambanje, the mayor of Bunagana town council in Kisoro District, said they have hosted “about 30,000 Congolese refugees for almost one week” and “need support from government to fumigate and clean the classroom blocks in the eight primary schools where the Congolese refugees are being accommodated.”
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Mr Douglas Asiimwe, the acting commissioner for refugees in the office of the Prime Minister, has promised support. “We shall erect tents, put in place mobile toilets and install water tanks at Bunagana border town…Government will provide all the necessities to about 3,000 Congolese refugees that voluntarily accepted to be relocated to Nyakabande refugee transit camp in Kisoro District,” Mr Asiimwe revealed.