Hundreds flee to Uganda to escape ethnic-based violence in DRC

Refugees bringing ‘shock’ to available resources, says commissioner 

Rodney Muhumuza
Tuesday 21 January 2020 15:49
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Ugandan police watch the border with DRC across Lake Albert
Ugandan police watch the border with DRC across Lake Albert

A Ugandan official says hundreds of Congolese people have fled to the East African nation in recent days to escape deadly ethnic-based fighting.

Gerald Menya, commissioner for refugees in Uganda, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that two to three Congolese people are arriving each hour.

He said over 60,000 have sought shelter in Uganda in the past year, fleeing clashes between the Hema and Lendu ethnic groups in Demorcratic Republic of the Congo's mineral-rich northeastern Ituri province.

The United Nations reported earlier this month that more than 700 people were killed and at least 168 injured in the fighting from December 2017 to September 2019, with the Hema herding community mostly targeted by the Lendu farming community.

The UN human rights office said killings, rapes and other violence targeting the Hema may amount to crimes against humanity.

Mr Menya said the Congolese arrivals are “bringing a lot of shock” to available resources in Uganda, a country that already hosts 1.3 million refugees, many who fled the civil war in neighbouring South Sudan.

The UN refugee agency noted funding gaps in September, saying it was operating at only 35 per cent of its total requirements.

Associated Press

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