DR Congo + 1 more

DRC-Uganda: "There is no one and no tribe that is safe"

News and Press Release
Originally published
ISHASHA, 20 November 2008 (IRIN) - Jacquelyn Ingenda Himana is one of 12,000 Congolese refugees who thought her chances for survival might be better in Uganda than in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where fighting among rebel factions and the army has displaced more than 250,000 people.

Himana is waiting at a transit camp in Ishasha, a border town, until her number, issued by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), comes up and it is her turn to board a bus away from Congo. She told IRIN about the violence that finally made her decide to leave DRC for ever:

"I'm 58 years old and now all my children are dead. I lost them one by one, all four of them, over the past one month. The rebels snatched them from their houses. They were grown and had their own children, and all of these children have run to different places. I don't know where they are.

"My husband died of cholera many years ago, and now my children are gone, so all I have is my niece, who is deaf and an orphan. But we travel together. When there is food, we share, and at night, we sleep next to each other.

"We spent three days running from the rebels. We went 60km, walking in the day and sleeping in the bush at night. We ran with nothing. I saw so many people being killed that I just left without collecting my things. Even children are being killed.

"I was thinking the war would end but it hasn't. I don't want to go back to Congo. I want to go to [Nakivale, a settlement camp for refugees] and rest. There are still people being killed in Congo. How can I go back?

"The rebel soldiers are disturbing people even in the camps inside Congo so we decided Uganda is better. The violence affects everyone; there is no one and no tribe that is safe.

"I voted for [President Joseph] Kabila but no one is helping us out. Maybe Uganda will help.

"I wanted to board the bus to Nakivale yesterday, but there was no room. I hope to leave today. In Nakivale there is food and somewhere to sleep. I want that and I want to be protected. Here, my health is not good because I don't eat and I'm sleeping outside at night.

"Where I can get a good life, where I can be free, I will be there. All I want is peace and somewhere to sleep and something to eat."