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Thousands Flee As Fresh Fighting Breaks Out In Congo

Fresh fighting has broken out between M23 rebels and the DRC army forcing thousands to flee into Uganda. Most of the refugees are women and children. They are temporarily being sheltered Kihihi Police post, waiting to be transferred to Nyakabande Reception Centre in Kisoro.
A child prepares a meal at Kihihi
Fresh fighting has broken out between the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels loyal to Col. Sultan Makenga and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government army forcing thousands to flee into Uganda.

At least 1000 refugees have entered Uganda since Friday 21st September through Ishasha in Kanungu district in south western Uganda.

Most of the refugees are women and children. Many more are still entering Uganda.

They are temporarily being sheltered Kihiihi Police post, waiting to be transferred to Nyakabande Reception Centre in Kisoro.

The M23 rebels are said to have overrun the towns of Nyakakoma, Buganza and Nyamirima all in Rushturu district North Kivu province.

According the refugees the M23 rebels are coordinating their attacks with Mai Mai fighters who are said to be fighting from the north of Rushturu and the fierce fighting has forced locals to flee for their lives.

Jean Bosco Kamanzi is a teacher in the Democratic Republic of Congo; He told our reporter that as he fled his home on Saturday 22nd of September he managed to count 5 dead bodies. He says that the bodies were dressed in uniform but he could not tell whether they were rebels or government forces.

Alfonse Mpozembizi (50), a Congolese refugee, told Uganda Radio Network (URN) that the rebels were asking men to join them saying that they were going to establish a new government that would help bring security to the area. 

Mpozembizi, however, says that locals were reluctant to join the rebels. He adds that the rebels were telling the locals who wanted to leave to do so quickly to enable them face the government forces easily.

Johnson Kyomukama, a Red Cross official at Nyakabande Reception Centre in Kisoro, says that this is the first time that thousands of refugees have entered Uganda through the Ishasha border post.

Kyomukama says that the Red Cross is mobilizing to transport the refugees to Nyakabande Reception Centre in Kisoro because it is too costly to establish another reception centre.

Juuko Kasiita, Kanungu Deputy Resident District Commissioner (RDC), says that they are continuing to receive the refugees.

Kasita also assured the locals that the Ugandan side is safe and there is no need for panic.

The Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) could not be reached for comment on the matter at the time of going to press.

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