Number of DRC Refugees Entering Uganda Drops

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In short
The number of refugees fleeing the deadly Lendu-Hema conflict in Ituri province in the Democratic Republic of Congo--DRC has drastically reduced, according to United Nations High Commissioner for RefugeesUNHCR.

The number of refugees fleeing the deadly Lendu-Hema conflict in Ituri province in the Democratic Republic of Congo--DRC has drastically reduced, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR).

Over  43,000 refugees  fled into Uganda in January this year according to information from the Office of the Prime Minister and UNHCR.  Although from the beginning of the year at least 3500 Congolese fled into Uganda on average each day, this number has reduced to an average of 343 refugees in a day.

According Duniya Aslam Khan, the Spokesperson UNHCR Uganda, starting from a week ago the number reduced drastically as refugees are seeking safety elsewhere  as armed men established a buffer around Lake Albert stopping people from running into Uganda.

"We think most people who wanted to flee have already come into Uganda. But some of the new arrivals are telling our staff that armed groups in Ituri are preventing civilians from fleeing their villages and now they are seeking safety elsewhere," she said

She says between February 21 and 23,  some 1,031  refugees from DRC entered Uganda, bringing the total number of new entrants from DRC to 43,800. The total number of refugees from DRC in Uganda stands at 251,730 currently.

While UNHCR had targeted to receive to 60,000 refugees from DRC this year, the first two months of the year saw the number shoot to 43,800. According to UNHCR, this presents challenges as the agency lacks adequate resources. 
Khan says there is need for continuous support by agencies and Governments towards the refugee response.

According to UNHCR, they are pressed especially in areas of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Nutrition and Refugee protection.

Fighting among the two communities previously devastated the region from 1999 to the early 2000s, leading to large scale internal displacement and refugee movements to Uganda.

The Lendu-Hema ethnic conflict has its own subplots in the wider DRC conflict but is usually the least reported on, perhaps due to its remoteness and the danger it poses to the national centres of power.

Uganda hosts an estimated 1.3 million refugees majority being from South Sudan, where there has been conflict since 2013 when fighting broke out between forces loyal to President Salvar Kiir and those of his former deputy, Dr RieK Machar. Uganda has responded to three concurrent emergency influxes from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi among others.

 

About the author

Alex Otto
“Journalism that changes lives is my goal,” Alex Otto has said on more than one occasion. That is his career’s guiding principle. Has been since he was a radio journalist in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu in 2009.

Otto passionately believes his journalism should bring to the fore the voices of the voiceless like the shooting victims of Apaa. Otto tries in his journalism to ask tough questions to those in positions of authority.

Based in the Kampala bureau, Otto is especially interested in covering agriculture, politics, education, human rights, crime, environment and business. He has reported intensively on the post-conflict situation in northern Uganda.

A URN staff member since 2014, Otto previously worked with The Observer Newspaper from 2012 to 2013 and later the Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR based in Gulu.

He was the URN Gulu bureau chief 2014-2016.