Thousands flee into Uganda following clashes in DR Congo

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Cameroon Report, YAOUNDE – The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the government of Uganda, and humanitarian partners are assisting some 10,000 refugees in the country’s southwest after they fled violent clashes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) which began on March 28.

Thousands of children, women and men arrived from Rutchuru territory in the DRC, some 8 kilometers from the Bunagana border crossing in Uganda’s Kisoro district, Joel Boutroue, UNHCR’s Representative to Uganda said during a  press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on Friday.

As people arrived in Uganda on March 28 and 29, artillery fire and gunshots could be heard from across the border, indicating that clashes were ongoing. 

Six people arrived with gunshot wounds and were taken for treatment, according to the UN official.

Most of the new arrivals are sheltering in and around the market and elsewhere in the community. 

“As with many previous incidents, they want to stay close to the border so they can more easily get news of what is happening in their villages, in the hope that the violence stops and they can return home,” Boutroue said. 

So far this year, UNHCR has received only 9% of the overall funding needs of US$343.3 million for our operations in Uganda, a country that hosts more refugees than any other in Africa.

The DRC has been plagued by violence for decades as several rebel groups fight with each other or against the country’s military and UN forces for territorial control.

According to the UN, exploitation of natural resources continues to be a root cause and driver of conflict. 

It is said that most of the armed groups have set aside their political demands and are involved in mineral trafficking.

Civilians pay the price for political and military rivalry in DRC.

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