News24

DRC refugees pour into Uganda

2012-03-06 23:01

Kampala - More than 5 600 villagers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, facing increasing attacks from armed militias, have fled into neighbouring Uganda since the start of February, an Ugandan minister said on Tuesday.

"Following the November 2011 elections in the DRC, the north-eastern part of that country has been plunged into a new wave of insecurity causing further influx of refugees into Uganda," said Stephen Malinga, the Ugandan minister for relief and disaster preparedness.

The refugees are entering Uganda at a rate of between 100 and 150 people per day through three entry points in the south-western border district of Kisoro. They are escaping various armed gangs, including the FDLR, a Rwandan Hutu Power group.

"I have been to south-western Uganda and interacted with the refugees. They report about general insecurity, rape of women and girls, ransacking of homes and the forcing of people to carry the loot," said Malinga.

"Those who are abducted are never heard [from] again."

DRC was enmeshed in a brutal civil war that drew in eight African countries in the late 1990s. Approximately 5 million people are estimated to have died, mostly from hunger and illness.

While the war officially ended in 2003, simmering conflicts continue, particularly in the eastern regions.

The Ugandan government, several relief groups and the United Nations are working to transfer the refugees from the camp near Kisoro, 480km from Kampala, to other established camps further inside the country, where services are offered.