The United Nations refugee agency today voiced concern about a new emergency in the North Kivu area of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where renewed fighting has uprooted tens of thousands of people in recent days.
Fighting has broken out close to the provincial capital of Goma between Congolese Government forces (FARDC) and the armed group known as the M23 movement after a two-month lull. This has led to displacement among the civilian population, including preventive displacement, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
“With a deteriorating situation in Masisi – to the north-west of Goma – a steady stream of about 600 people a week has been crossing into Uganda's Kisoro district,” UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards told reporters in Geneva. “More skirmishes are likely and we fear that they could trigger a bigger exodus.”
The agency has sent plastic sheeting for shelter construction, plates and cups, and temporary latrine kits as well as soap for the new arrivals, and provided fuel for transfers to the transit centre.
On Monday, UNHCR sent an additional emergency shipment of tents, plastic rolls, blankets, sleeping mats and fuel. Other items such as larger tents for office use as well as plastic tables and chairs are also being arranged. Partner UN agencies are also providing food and water.
Separately, tens of thousands of refugees have fled into western Uganda after the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan rebel group, captured the North Kivu town of Kamango.
The Uganda Red Cross has so far registered more than 66,000 refugees in the country's Bundibugyo district.
“Together with our partners, we have completed joint assessment missions and begun moving emergency food and non-food aid to the area. The refugees are living in any space available, including schools, with host families and even in gardens,” said Mr. Edwards.
Even before the arrival of the newest refugees, Uganda was already home to more than 210,000 registered refugees and asylum-seekers, more than 60 per cent of whom came from the DRC.