Relocation Of Congolese Refugees Starts Tomorrow

The relocation of 20,000 Congolese refugees from Bundibugyo district to Kyangwali Settlement Camp in Hoima district starts tomorrow.

Congolese refugees in Bundibugyo
Congolese refugees in Bundibugyo

Last month, more than 60,000 refugees entered Uganda through Bundibugyo district, after rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) attacked the town of Kamango, 15 kilometers from the Uganda-DRC border. The refugees are currently camped at the Bubukwanga transit camp in Bundibugyo district.

The relocation exercise will be overseen by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

Lucy Beck, the UNHCR Associate External Relations Officer, told local media that 2,000 refugees will be relocated per week to the settlement camp starting on Tuesday.  According to UNHCR records, there are currently 19,500 registered refugees at the transit camp in Bundibugyo.

Beck says the relocation exercise will last five months. She says there was need to find alternative settlement for the refugees since the transit camp had exceeded its full capacity, adding that only 8,000 will remain at Bubukwanga.

According to Beck, when in Kyangwali the refugees will be able to cultivate food for consumption and sale to earn a living. She also says that the children will be able to go to school, since there are schools neighboring the settlement camp.

The relocation exercise may however, be hampered by some refugees who said they will reject the move, preferring to wait for the fighting in DRC to stop so that they return to their homes. Some of them say they are farmers and own large cocoa plantations back home.

Kyangwali is one of the largest refugee camps in Uganda. It is home to refugees from Rwanda, the DRC, Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, Kenya and Eritrea.

Meanwhile more refugees continue to enter Bundibugyo district through the Busunga border post. In a telephone interview, Charles Bafaki, the senior settlement officer in the Office of the Prime Minister, says there are between 200-300 refugees who enter the district every day.

Bafaki says some of the refugees said there is still low level fighting across the border. He says some refugees have reported at the transit camp, while others are staying with host families in Nyahuka, Busunga and Busaru.

He says that despite the congestion at the transit centre, the refugees can afford to be served three meals a day, 200 latrines have been constructed and there are plans to build more. Hygiene promoters have also been recruited to sensitize the refugees about proper hygiene and sanitation.

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