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304 Refugees Cross into Uganda

The refugees entered the country on Monday following fighting between M23 rebels and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) soldiers in Rutshuru territory, North Kivu province.
A congolese soldier at Bunagana border
304 refugees have crossed into Uganda through the Uganda-Democratic Republic of Congo border of Bunagana.  

The refugees entered the country on Monday following fighting between M23 rebels and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) soldiers in Rutshuru territory, North Kivu province.

Hajji Shafique Ssekandi Ssengoba, the Resident District Commissioner Kisoro says that refugees were received by security personnel manning the border and handed over to United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) officials.

According to Ssengoba so far 17,851 refugees are still at Nyakabande the transit camp.  He however says that authorities are worried after a case of Covid-19 was recorded among the refugees.

Meanwhile, FARDC on Tuesday said that two of their soldiers were injured after they fell in an ambush by M23 rebels in Muhati while on a domination patrol in the region of the Kisigari group in Rutshuru territory between Virunga National Park.

Lieutenant-Colonel Guillaume Njike Kaiko, the spokesperson for the Sokola 2/North Kivu operational sector claims that while rebels fired bullets several times, the FARDC did not respond because they did not want to violate the recommendations of the Nairobi conclave.  

“Our FARDC units on patrol soiled bullets in liaison between Bikenge and Ishangi. We did not reply because not only did we want to avoid collateral damage but also and above all we wanted to respect the Nairobi conclave. We see a violation of the ceasefire by the M23 but we want to tell you that the army will not let it go,” says Kaiko.  

The accusations were however strongly rejected by Major Willy Ngoma, spokesperson of the M23 rebels. Ngoma instead accuses FARDC soldiers of accusing the army of attacking the M23, which only responded to the provocation.  According to Ngoma, the M23 occupies the hills of Chanzu and Runyonyi to protect its rear base of Mount Sabinyo.

The FARDC controls the Bugusa position, about ten kilometers north of the M23 positions.   The fighting between M23 rebels and FARDC that started on March 28 has left more than 40,000 people displaced with over 20,000 crossing to Uganda and others in Rutshuru.  

More than 3000 refugees have been transferred to Nakivale refugee camp in Isingiro district from Nyakabande.

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