More Congolese refugees flee to UgandaAbout 37,128 Congolese refugees have fled to Uganda from the Democratic Republic of the Congo since the beginning of 2018, according to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR. The Danish Refugee Council(DRC) has offered assistance to more than 11,000 of the new arrivals.
The refugees report fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ituri and North Kivu regions.
"There is killing of people there [in Congo]," said Yohana Buzige who does not know his age but whose documents from the Uganda government indicated that he was born in 1928, possibly making him 90.
"It is my first time to be a refugee. I am an old man with no energy to do anything. But I had to flee home," said Buzige who fled to Uganda with his 80-year old wife, Uwimana Tereza, through the South "estern district of Kisoro.
Buzige and Uwimana are among the refugees who have been supported and resettled in Kyaka II refugee settlement in Kyegegwa district. The Danish Refugee Council is UNHCR’s main implementing partner in Kyaka.
"We have been receiving, managing and resettling the refugees," said Daniel Mwangi Ndege, DRC’s Area Manager in Kyaka II. "Each trip for new arrivals is between 900-1,200 people. We resettle them within 24 hours after arrival" said Ndege. Initially Kyaka II received between one to two trips a week. But that number has now increased to three.
The refugees, UNHCR has noted "talk of growing attacks against civilian population, as well as killings and destruction of private property" in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"Bandits are kidnapping people in Kinyandoni. I did not want to be kidnaped so I fled to Uganda," said 19-year-old Tuwombe Adrian, a recent arrival in Kyaka II.
The Inter Agency (brings together different actors in the Uganda refugee response) puts the number of Congolese refugees expected to flee into Uganda in 2018 at 60,000.
In Kyaka II, DRC gives out core relief items to the refugees including but not limited to plastic sheeting, saucepans, cups, pangas, knives, poles to support them in putting up shelters and solar lights.
Those with special needs like the elderly couple of Yohana Buzige and his wife Uwimana Tereza are supported to put up a temporary shelter on being allocated a plot of land by the Uganda government.
"At least we have where to rest," said Buzige on being taken to his plot of land where a temporary shelter had been erected by DRC for his family.
Eventually DRC will support refugees with special needs with construction of semi-permanent shelter. Since the beginning of the year, 1,350 refugees with special needs have been registered in Kyaka II.
Until the latest influx of Congolese refugees in Uganda which began on 19th December 2017, Kyaka II had a population of around 27,000. That figure has now increased by more than 11,000. At the beginning of the influx, Kyaka II was estimated to have an additional capacity of 40,000 residents.
"Although never perfect, the ability to receive, manage and resettle refugees in Kyaka II demonstrates how well a response can operate with joint early preparation between partners," said Anders Bastholm Hansen, DRC’s Head of Programme, Uganda and Tanzania.
Preparations to receive refugees in Kyaka began mid last year. It included construction of a new semi-permanent reception centre with iron sheet roofing, cemented floor, solar panels for lighting and water tanks and taps installed. The reception centre has a capacity of 15,000.