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Congolese Refugees: Nyakabande Transit Camp Grapples With Limited Shelter :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Congolese Refugees: Nyakabande Transit Camp Grapples With Limited Shelter

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Humanitarian aid agencies at the transit center, say that the huge influx of refugees has led to a shortage of accommodation shelter. Hillary Adomat, a Shelter Technical Officer for the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) which supports orphaned and vulnerable children in Central and Western Uganda, says that limited shelter has resulted in congestion during the time of sleeping.
Refugees preparing meals at Nyakabande transit center in Kisoro District (Photo Credit Samuel Amanya)

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Nyakabande refugees transit camp in Nyakabande sub-county, Kisoro district is grappling with the limited shelter to accommodate the huge number of Congolese refugees fleeing fighting in their country.

The camp is currently home to 9,366 refugees. They crossed into Uganda following clashes between the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) that started on March 28, 2022, in Rutshuru territory, North Kivu province.  

The fighting displaced more than 45,000 civilians.  More than 27,974 have crossed to Uganda since March 28, 2022.  Another 741 refugees have registered at the transit center since Wednesday last week.  More than 3500 refugees were transferred to the Nakivale refugee camp in Isingiro district.

Humanitarian aid agencies at the transit center, say that the huge influx of refugees has led to a shortage of accommodation shelter. Hillary Adomat,  a Shelter Technical Officer for the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) which supports orphaned and vulnerable children in Central and Western Uganda, says that limited shelter has resulted in congestion during the time of sleeping.

Adomat also says that many refugees have nowhere to prepare meals since the few kitchens are full, which exposes them to the risk of fire outbreaks. According to Adomat, the absence of kitchens and dining facilities puts the refugees in a dilemma whenever it rains while cooking and having meals.

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Ivan Kwesiga, the Shelter in Charge Medical Teams International, a humanitarian aid agency providing life-saving care for refugees, disaster survivors, mothers, and children, says that the current accommodation space at the transit center stands at 1.1 square meters per person compared to the standard 3.5 square meters per person.  

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Robert Tukamuheebwa, the Kisoro Deputy Resident District Commissioner, says that to address the problem of accommodation, the district has sacrificed more land and equipment to create more space.  

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Runyankore

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Esther Davina Anyakun, the State Minister for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees has advised the officials to find alternatives to stop the refugees from cooking near tents in the transit center. She says that in case of a fire outbreak, it may lead to bigger problems. Anyakun also calls for more support from international humanitarian agencies emphasizing that the challenges are still very many.

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Fighting between FARDC, and M23 resumed on Monday morning in Runyonyi and Chanzu region, Rutshuru territory. According to the FARDC spokesman for the operational sector Sokola 2/North-Kivu, Lieutenant-Colonel Njike Kaiko, the government army responded to the provocation of the rebels who launched hostilities around 5 AM on their positions in Muhati. 

“We woke up under enemy fire who once again tried to attack one of our positions in Muhati. We jumped into the water. And we just conquered Muhati. The M23 is resistant to the PDDRC-S process. But also, keep attacking our positions. But, at least, the operations are progressing very well on the ground,” Kaiko says.

However, Bertrand Bisimwa, the president of M23 rebels released a statement on Twitter later in the day accusing FARDC and allies of launching their offensive against the M23 positions in Jomba at 5 AM on Monday morning.  Bisimwa argued that the FARDC is carrying out attacks to compromise the dialogue in Nairobi. 

“With the intention of compromising the Nairobi dialogue recommended by the UN Security Council, the FARDC and allies launched their the offensive against the M23 positions in Jomba since 5 this morning. Monusco's participation in the fighting contradicts the UN Security Council”, said Bisimwa in a tweet. 

The fighting resumed a week after an apparent lull that was already observed inthe region. On Friday last week, FARDC paid tribute to 15 of its soldiers whodied while fighting the M23 rebels. The Congolese government has clearly accused Rwanda of being the intellectual responsible for M23 rebels, an accusation that President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo even reiterated on Sunday during his stay in Oyo, Congo Brazzaville. Rwanda has strongly denied the accusations.