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At least 5,000 Congolese arrive in Sudan after attacks by rebels – UN

At least 5,000 Congolese arrive in Sudan after attacks by rebels – UN

Women marching against sexual violence in the DRC (file photo)
At least 5,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have arrived in South Sudan in the past two weeks after fleeing “ferocious” attacks by the notorious Ugandan rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the United Nations refugee agency reported today.

Ron Redmond, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva that an estimated 150 Congolese are crossing every day into the villages of Sakure and Gangura, in the Yambio area of South Sudan.

A three-member UNHCR team was in Yambio over the weekend to assess the needs of the new arrivals and to arrange assistance for them.

“Refugees told UNHCR that they fled their villages near Dungu, in north-eastern DRC, because of ferocious attacks by members of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA),” Mr. Redmond said.

“In Gangura, our team spoke to several refugees who gave harrowing accounts of their flight. One refugee, who had just arrived on a bicycle, said that his wife and daughter had been abducted. It took him a week to travel to Gangura because he had to evade LRA roadblocks and ambushes – obstacles cited by other refugees as well,” he stated.

Local authorities in Sakure told UNHCR they were very concerned by the security situation in north-east DRC, saying that they had information that Moro village – some 58 kilometres inside the DRC – was attacked on Sunday. “They said that children were abducted, houses burned and inhabitants endured a lot of violence,” said Mr. Redmond.

The refugees told UNHCR they did not wish to return home until the threat of the LRA has been removed, adding that they had nothing to return to anyway since their homes and belongings were destroyed.

UNHCR teams are scheduled to go back to Sakure and Gangura on Wednesday to continue interviewing refugees and start registering them.

Meanwhile, refugees wounded during the LRA attacks in DRC during the past two weeks are being treated at the Médecins Sans Frontières clinics in the region.

UNHCR is trying to organize a food distribution but is facing logistical problems owing to poor roads in the area. The agency is working with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP), who both have a presence in Yambio, to respond to the influx.