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Uganda: URCS, UNHCR to re-locate Ishasha refugee reception centre

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Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) and UNHCR are planning to re-locate Ishasha Reception Centre in Kanungu district for the safety of the refugees fleeing fights in Democratic Republic of Congo between the Government forces and rebels.

The move to re-locate the refugees, according to URCS Branch field coordinator for Rukungiri Cadet Benjamin is due to the increased fighting. He said, "The situation has become unpredictable. We are so near the boarder and anything can happen. The Interahamwe are controlling this part of the boarder after over-powering the government forces and we fear for the lives of the refugees." Cadet said the reception centre will be re-located 7kms away from the boarder as they wait to set up a transit centre with UNHCR.

More refugees keep coming into the country. As of November 16, 2008 about 15, 000 had crossed into the country. 3, 293 refugees that entered through Ishasha in Kanungu have been transferred to Nakivale Resettlement Camp in Isingiro district. About 3,000 refugees from Kisoro have also been transferred to Nakivale.

The Nyakabande Transit Camp in Kisoro is operational and URCS continues to provide emergency relief items to the refugees in the camp.

The Branch Field Coordinator Kisoro Mr. Edson Baherezibwa said 10 more unaccompanied minors have been identified and transferred to Nakivale as they trace for their relatives amongst the refugees.

He said the URCS volunteers participating in the operation have undergone refresher training in relief distribution, registration, code of conduct and how to handle unaccompanied minors. URCS has deployed 60 volunteers for the Kisoro operation.

On November 17, 2008, WFP distributed some food in Kisoro. The items included maize floor, soya, beans and cooking oil.

In Kisoro and Kanungu, URCS is taking on the role of sensitising refugees about the benefits of going to the camp, hygiene promotion & sensitization of refugees on sanitation. In addition, URCS is carrying out registration of the refugees as they enter Uganda through Kisoro and Kanungu.

Gaps/needs

-There is still need for more water in Kisoro and Kanungu. MSF is however providing some water in Ishasha.

-Need for latrines at Ishaha centre in Kanungu

-Health centres have run of drugs due to the increasing population in the areas.

As of November 18, 2008, fresh fights were reported in DRC as the rebels took over a new territory in the strife torn east of the country.