Thousands flee ethnic violence in Congo: UNHCR

World Tuesday 25/June/2019 15:35 PM
By: Times News Service
Thousands flee ethnic violence in Congo: UNHCR

Geneva: Thousands of Congolese people have fled their country for Uganda to escape ethnic violence, according to an official from UNHCR.

Speaking at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said, "Around 7,500 Congolese refugees have arrived in Uganda since the start of June, placing strain on already badly overstretched facilities.

"Renewed clashes between opposing Hema and Lendu groups in north-eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are driving people across the border into Uganda at a rate of 311 a day, more than double the rate of refugee arrivals in May (145 per day)," he said.

According to Mahecic, new arrivals have spoken of brutality taking place on the streets in their country.

"Armed groups are said to be attacking villages, torching and looting houses, and killing men, women and children. Most people are fleeing to Uganda via Lake Albert from Ituri province, where displacement since early June is now estimated at 300,000," he added.

Some refugees, he stated, were arriving with significant belongings fearing they may not be able to return for some time.

The UNHCR spokesperson said, "Others who have fled imminent danger have little more than the clothes on their backs. Nearly two thirds are children, below 18 years in age."

Transit and reception facilities in Uganda have been overwhelmed. Newly arrived refugees are first taken to a transit centre in a a small fishing village. They are then transported to the Kagoma reception centre, where currently new arrivals call home, 1,600 more than its intended capacity.

UNHCR is appealing to the international community to come forward with further funding. Mahecic stated that UNHCR and its partners working n the refugee response in Uganda had received $150 million, 17 per cent of the total $927 million needed.