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Uganda overwhelmed with high congolese refugee influx

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The high influx of refugees fleeing fighting in eastern DR Congo into Uganda has forced government to change its contingency plan and also called for a sanitation emergency plan, a senior official has said.

The commissioner for refugees in the Office of the Prime Minster yesterday said the southwestern border was overwhelmed by the number of refugees.

“Our contingency plan for the southwestern border was looking at 30,000 refugees this year, focusing on food, shelter, medical care and transportation, among others. But now they are 26,500 mid way the year and more are still coming.”

“We call upon government and international organisations for more funding,” Mr Kazungu added. The head of communications at the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS), Ms Catherine Ntabadde, said thousands of refugees have been flowing into the country since the beginning of the week and the areas they are moving to lack enough sanitation facilities.

“Red Cross has since Thursday last week registered 5,059 Congolese refugees. Nyakabande Transit Camp already has 12,460 refugees. Normally when people come in such big numbers, they compromise the sanitation of the area,” Ms Ntabade said during a phone interview with this newspaper.

United Nations High Commission for Refugees and URCS have already provided relief items. “Red Cross’s non-food items are targeting 1,000 most vulnerable refugees such as pregnant women, disabled, children and elderly. We are also strengthening sanitation at the camp in Bunagana where we are providing 20 sanitation kits each kit comprises of pangas, wheel barrows, pix axes, hoes and spades,” Ms Ntabade said.
She said URCS would also provide 15 mobile toilets and three water tanks of 10,000 liters each to prevent disease outbreaks among the communities at Bunagana boarder.”

On Saturday, more than 600 Congolese soldiers and policemen who fled into Uganda after M23 rebel forces of Gen. Bosco Ntaganda overran their battalion in Rutshuru Province, were relocated to Kasese District.

UPDF 2nd Division spokesperson, Capt. Peter Mugisa, said Kisoro District where they had settled had no facilities.
This latest fighting comes months after the DR Congo Electoral Commission declared President Joseph Kabila the winner of a disputed election.

, having garnered 49 percent of the votes cast against opposition politician Etienne Tshisekedi’s 32 percent. Violent protests broke out mostly in eastern DRC which has forced many Congolese to seek refuge in Uganda.

They claim that the local militias ask them which candidate they voted for and their responses at times lead to violence from the local militias and fighters operating in eastern DRC.

According to UNHCR, the new wave of refugees includes many of the returning civilians who had returned to DRC between 2010 and 2011.
But because of the upheavals in Congo, they have been forced to return, frustrated UNHCR’s repatriation efforts.

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