DR Congo + 1 more

DRC clashes cause refugee influx

by Felix Basiime

Mbarara, Jul 18, 2005 --FRESH fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo has sparked off a new exodus of about 140 Congolese refugees who have entered Uganda's border districts of Kanungu and Kisoro.

The 2nd Division Army Spokesman, Lt. Chris Magezi, said fresh fighting between local militia groups had erupted about 20kms inside DR Congo in Nyakakoma and Nyamirima, a landing site at Lake Edward.

"Our forces at the border can hear motor sounds from DRC very well. About 70 people have fled into Kanungu this week and a similar number has settled in Kisoro," he said.

Magezi said reports coming from DR Congo indicated that the Lendu militia attacked and drove RCD-Goma rebel forces out of Nyakakoma and Nyamirima areas.

He said RCD-Goma were fighting to recapture their territory.

"This is forcing the people to flee to Uganda and some have even entered Queen Elizabeth National Park. But we are screening everybody that enters Uganda. They are still crisscrossing at the border," Magezi said.

He said a security meeting was held in Kanungu on July 14 and the Congolese were advised to go to other DRC villages which are safe.

"We are trying not to allow more refugees in Uganda and we are alert to block any bad elements from taking advantage of the situation," Magezi said.

Last Saturday night, armed thugs looted shops in Kanungu and fled back into DR Congo. The government of DR Congo President Joseph Kabila has been battling various rebel factions and local militias who have made the eastern part of the country insecure.

Peace has eluded DRC's eastern region since the civil war broke out there about seven years ago.

Since 2003 when Uganda and Rwanda withdrew their armies from eastern DR Congo, where they had been backing rival rebel forces against Kabila's government, security in that region has been fragile. Local militia groups have often attacked each other displacing people from their villages.