Influx of Congolese refugees increases
The number of Congolese nationals fleeing to Rwanda escaping violence, following resumption of clashes between DR Congo army and militia groups has surged to an estimated 1100, officials said yesterday.
According to the Minister of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDMAR), Marcel Gatsinzi, the number has in one day increased from about 300 on Sunday to over 1050.
The refugees are all received at Nkamira Transit Centre in Rubavu District.
“In collaboration with UNHCR, we are currently receiving and registering them at Nkamira Centre to ascertain their exact number and why they are fleeing the country,” he said.
Gatsinzi said government will offer maximum protection to the refugees at the centre before they either return to DR Congo or resettled in refugee camps in the country.
“Food and non food appliances have already been dispatched at the centre by UNHCR and currently there is no shortage of food and the refugees will be catered for well,” he said.
“I cannot tell you when they will be transferred to camps because it’s still too early and we are currently receiving more.”
Presently, there are thousands of Congolese refugees in Rwanda in three camps of Gihembe in Gicumbi District, Kiziba Camp in Karongi District, and Nyabiheke camp in Gatsibo.
They total over 55, 000 and have been living in these camps for over 15 years.
“We have an emergency team already at the transit centre to undertake rapid assessment of the situation, this means establishing the financial, human and material needs of the refugees and to immediately assist them,” Anouck Bronee, the External Relations Officer at the UNHCR told The New Times, yesterday, in an interview.
“We are carrying out the assessment in partnership with government and other UN agencies like WFP, WHO and UNICEF.”
Bronee said after the assessment the next step is to decide on how and when the refugees will be taken to camps.
“I cannot confirm at this stage when they will be transferred but hopefully in a month or couple of days. They will not stay at the transit centre for too long; they need to be transferred to one of the refugee camps,” she pointed out.
Nkamira Transit Centre has the capacity to accommodate 5000 people.
Reports indicate that Congolese citizens are fleeing possible reprisal attacks by terrorist groups; the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan rebel outfit.
Congolese army has lately increased operations against both outfits.
FDLR is composed of mainly elements responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, which claimed more than a million lives, as a spate of human atrocities in the Congo, while Joseph Kony’s LRA have for years terrorised and visited violence
Contact email: on civilians in Uganda and across the region frank.kanyesigye[at]newtimes.co.rw