Over 950 DR Congo refugees cross into Uganda amid rebel activities back home

Newly arrived refugees sit outside their makeshift shelter in Amugo refugee settlement camp in Arua District, northern Uganda August 15, 2017. Image courtesy: REUTERS/Jason Patinkin
FILE:Newly arrived refugees sit outside their makeshift shelter in Amugo refugee settlement camp in Arua District, northern Uganda August 15, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Patinkin

At least 974 refugees from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have arrived in Uganda over the last several days through the porous border of the western district of Bundibugyo, a relief agency said here Wednesday.

Irene Nakasiita, Uganda Red Cross Society spokesperson, told Xinhua Wednesday that the majority of the refugees are children and women.

“About 664 are children and 175 are women,” she said, noting that 135 are men.

Nakasiita said the greatest worry is not being able to trace some incoming refugees since they go straight to interact with their extended family members and stay there.

As COVID-19 cases escalate, there is also fear that new cases could be imported by the refugees.

“There is a need for access to safe water, food, medical care, COVID-19 prevention services, masks and handwashing facilities,” she said, warning more refugees would cross into the country unless the fighting stops.

Military chiefs of the two neighboring countries last month held discussions about the deteriorating security situation in Beni North Kivu Province, a region where several militia groups including Uganda’s Allied Democratic Forces continue to wreak havoc.

United Nations Commissioner for Refugees figures here show that Uganda hosts 1.4 million refugees mainly from neighboring South Sudan, DRC, and Rwanda.