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Threat Of Disease Hangs Over Kanungu Congolese Refugees Camp

Esau Bahikayo, the Camp Commandant told Uganda Radio Network (URN), that by Saturday evening, they had registered 2,130 refugees at the centre but many more were still being brought in by UNHCR from the border where they report immediately after crossing from the DRC. He complained that the camp had not been adequately equipped to handle the influx.
Refugees line up for water at Mutanda
A few days after its opening, Mutanda Reception Centre Kanungu district is already struggling to handle the large number of Congolese refugees pouring through its gates. The refugees are fleeing fierce fighting in the eastern province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), north Kivu.

 Mutanda Reception Centre was established by the office of the Prime Minister in conjunction with the United Nations High commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR) to ease the challenge of processing newly arrived refugees.

Previously, on entry, refugees would be transferred to Nyakabande Reception Centre in Kisoro district, which is approximately 136km away, before their official processing could commence.

Esau Bahikayo, the Camp Commandant told Uganda Radio Network (URN), that by Saturday evening, they had registered 2,130 refugees at the centre but many more were still being brought in by UNHCR from the border where they report immediately after crossing from the DRC.

He complained that the camp had not been adequately equipped to handle the influx. He said part of the cause of the six diarrhoea outbreak cases reported was because the camp is crowded yet they are under pressure to receive more people.

All the patients have been receiving treatment from Medical International Team which arrived at the camp on Sunday. A more severe case was transferred to Kambuga Hospital for specialised treatment.

The UNHCR Emergency Coordinator based in Mbarara Hassan Keynaan admitted the situation was critical as the few supplies received were running out.  Keynaan said that they had expected to handle the limited numbers already on their hands and transfer them to Resettlement Camps in Rwamwanja or Nakivale in Kamwenge and Isingiro districts respectively. They have found they had to admit more people faster than anticipated while still working on the infrastructure of the camp.

Oliver Asiimwe, a Red Cross official, said they had so far managed to put up five villages each containing 50 tents accommodating between 10 to 15 people each.

Burayobera Rurangangabo (60), a refugee at the camp, said that he had fled because Mai Mai fighters accused him of being a Force du Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebel because he could speak Kinyarwada.

Burayobera said that since government troops withdrew from Muganza, the area had become a battleground for competiting rebel groups. Mai Mai fighters are facing off with FDLR rebels and he said had counted at least 30 bodies of persons killed by Mai Mai fighters. He claimed that the civilians had been murdered after they refused to join the Mai Mai fighters.

Fighting between the Mai Mai and FDLR fighters, who are the remnants of the Hutu Interahamwe who fled Rwanda at the peak of the genocide in 1994, continues to rage on.

 

Jean claude Harera, another refugee, confirmed that the Mai Mai fighters were giving civilians the option of joining their ranks or risk being killed on the spot.

Kanungu Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Juuko Kasiita said that security authorities were on high alert to detect any defeated soldiers or rebels trying to slip into Uganda with the refugees.

He said that there was strict screening before the refugees could be admitted to the settlement camp in Isingiro.

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