Refugees escape to Kenya
What you need to know:
- Majority of the refugees are Congolese nationals from Kyaka refugee camp in Kyegegwa District, while others are Somali nationals leaving Nakivale refugee camp.
The number of refugees escaping from Ugandan camps to Kenya due to alleged poor living conditions and lack of education for their children, among others, has increased over the past month, Daily Monitor has established.
Majority of the refugees are Congolese nationals from Kyaka refugee camp in Kyegegwa District, while others are Somali nationals leaving Nakivale refugee camp.
Figures from security agencies at the border indicate that last month, at least 11 Somali nationals and 22 Congolese were intercepted at the Busia border after they were allegedly found crossing to Kenya, while December has so far seen 40 refugees, all Congolese nationals, intercepted.
“It is true we are recording increasing numbers of refugees escaping refugee camps in Uganda and crossing into Kenya, with the majority of them being Congolese and Somali nationals,” a source at the border said at the weekend.
The source said last week, 10 Congolese adults and 30 children were intercepted after crossing through porous borders in Marachi and Mugungu villages in Busia.
Mr David Ntole, a Congolese refugee who was intercepted, said they have no food, access to education, clean water, and health services at Kyaka camp.
He added that he fled eastern Congo and settled in Uganda in 2019 after his father and two of his children were killed following the eruption of ethnic violence.
However, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) officials, who were at the Busia border to return the refugees to Kyaka settlement camp, dismissed the allegations.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source said Kyaka refugee camp provides food, medical care and other basics to all the refugees.
“Whoever is escaping from the (Ugandan) camp to Kenya has personal reasons and should stop telling lies,” the source said.
Mr John Rex Achila, the Busia Resident District Commissioner, said the refugees could be escaping to get compensation in Kenya.
“It is a feeling among some of the refugees that if they cross to Kenya, they will benefit from the planned compensation ahead of the closure of the camps in the neighbouring country,” Mr Achila said.
“We are told that Kenya is planning to close all their refugee camps and compensate all refugees who have been residing there, which is why some of them are trying to escape to Kenya so that they register as refugees and get compensated,” he said.
The last group of 40 Congolese who had crossed through Marachi (Uganda) into Kenya were returned to Uganda.
Hundreds of Congolese nationals fled into Uganda last month following clashes between government forces and M23 rebels in eastern DR Congo.
Some of the refugees found at Bunagana border post in Kisoro District in western Uganda said they had walked about 40km from their homes as government forces tried to flush out the rebels.