1,000 people flee from Uvira to Burundi

A thousand people have fled to the Burundi town of Gatumba, on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, since Friday following fighting that erupted over the weekend between Mayi-Mayi militia and the former rebel group, Rassemblement congolais pour la démocratie-National, according to UN agencies.

"A joint mission of the UN refugee agency [UNHCR], the UN Children's Fund and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [OCHA] yesterday went to assess the situation and found that there were about 1,000 registered people, mainly from Kavimvira, Kilomani, Makobola and Baraka," Helena Mazarro, an OCHA humanitarian affairs officer, told IRIN on Tuesday.

Mazzaro said the state of the refugees was not "that critical", adding that many had some food stocks sufficient for three to four days. She added that the refugees had shelter, latrines, drinking water and access to health care, as a transit refugee camp for Congolese had earlier been built in the same area.

"The refugees will receive proper assistance after being transferred either to Cishemeye camp in Cibitoke [northwestern Burundi] or to Gasorwe camp in Muyinga [eastern Burundi], because Gatumba camp must be closed down," Mazzaro said.

Many of the refugees are reportedly concerned about being transferred, as they do not know to where their relatives have fled. UNHCR has promised to help in the search for relatives, after the transfers begin on Thursday.