DR Congo

Congolese refugees: URCS supporting UNHCR set up transit camp in Kisoro

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Once again, Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) is in action to save yet another set of refugees that have fled into Uganda. These refugees hailing from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are fleeing for their lives following continued clashes between DRC government troops and rebels.

As of November 10, 2008, 10, 000 refugees had come into Uganda through Kanungu and Kisoro districts of Western Uganda. On a daily basis, an average of 20 refugees comes into the country.

Due to the increasing number of Congolese refugees, there have been reported cases of dysentery among the refugees. The number of cases are yet to be confirmed.

Uganda Red Cross branches of Kisoro and Kanungu are supporting UNHCR in the registering of the refugees. In addition, URCS Kisoro has been accommodating refugees as they wait to be transferred to a resettlement camp by UNHCR. 60 URCS volunteers have been deployed in Kisoro to support the Red Cross operations. The URCS sub branch in Kanungu has mobilized and trained 30 volunteers for the operation in Kanungu. During the registration process, URCS will be able to identify unaccompanied/separated children. URCS has come across a 12 year unaccompanied minor in Kisoro. The branch has already started on the process of tracing her origin and relatives.

According to the Branch Field Coordinator Kisoro Mr. Edson Baherezibwa, URCS has been able to distribute 3, 000 non food items to refugees in Kisoro. The NFIs include cups, plates, jerrycans, soap, blankets & tarpaulins. Mr. Baherezibwa said a transit camp is being set up at Nyakabande in Kisoro, 17 kms from the boarder.

3, 000 refugees have so far been transferred to Nakivale Resettlement camp in Western Uganda by UNHCR.

URCS is supporting UNHCR in the setting up of a transit camp in Nyakabande where the refugees will be hosted temporarily before re-location in Nakivale. On November 11, 2008, URCS gave UNHCR 50 tarpulins to roof the structures in the camp, 50 saucepans, 100 plates, 100 cups and 20 jerrycans. These will be used by the refugees while at the camp.

In Kanungu, over 200 NFIs have been distributed so far. URCS is participating in agency plan meetings at Kampala level coordinated by UNHCR.

Within the Movement, URCS is coordinating regularly with ICRC and Danish Red Cross for support. According to URCS Acting Secretary General Mr. Michael Nataka, IFRC has responded positively to the emergency DREF to support 5, 000.

URCS is working in partnership with the district officials and other players on ground.

In Kanungu, the Branch Field Coordinator Mr. Benjamin Cadet said over 2, 000 refugees want to cross to Uganda through Kanungu but the Congelese government troops are not allowing them. The river which the refugees have been using to cross to Uganda has filled up.

Gaps/needs

- Community mobilization and sensitization about immunization and HIV/AIDs in the boarder villages hosting the refugees;

- The health centres in Kisoro have reportedly run out of medicine.

- Food

- Water for drinking and use

- Need for latrines at Ishaha centre in Kanungu

On November 9, 2008, fresh reports were reported in the Eastern Province of DRC between the Congolese government army and rebels of Laurent Nkunda.

By Catherine Ntabadde