Uganda overstretched by DRC refugee influx

Ugandan officials say they are struggling to cope with a continuing influx of civilians fleeing violence in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“We are struggling to provide the basic needs and facilities. It’s not easy to manage and provide shelter, water, health services and food for them,” Uganda’s commissioner for refugees, David Kazungu, told IRIN. Every day, 50-80 refugees were crossing the border, he said.

Many of the new arrivals are staying at a transit camp at Nyakabande in Kisoro District, which was originally designed to house just 1,000 people and now has 3,500 residents.

Describing conditions at the site as “over-stretched but completely under control”, Kai Nielsen, the UN Refugee Agency’s representative in Uganda, said lack of available land meant no refugees had been transferred from the site to more permanent settlements since late February.

“The new arrivals are accommodated in family tents, and more tents are put up as and when required,” he said.

More recent arrivals from DRC are thought to have fled a government offensive against defected soldiers led by International Criminal Court indictee Bosco Ntaganda.