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Rutshuru Attack: 960 DRC Nationals Still Camping in Kisoro :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Rutshuru Attack: 960 DRC Nationals Still Camping in Kisoro

There was heavy fighting in the villages of Chanzu and Runyoni in Rutshuru, about 25 kilometres from the border with Uganda forcing thousands of Congolese nationals in the affected area to flee into Uganda through Bunagana and other porous borders in Kisoro district.
Some of the refugees at Bunagana border heading back home

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960 DRC nationals are still pitching camp at Nyakabande Refugee Transit Camp in Nyakabande Sub County, Kisoro district despite, reports of calm returning to their home area of Rutshuru.

There was heavy fighting in the villages of Chanzu and Runyoni in Rutshuru, about 25 kilometres from the border with Uganda forcing thousands of DRC nationals in the affected area to flee into Uganda through Bunagana and other porous borders in Kisoro district.

The heavily armed attackers emerged from Virunga National Park, a few Kilometers from the Rwanda DRC border, and simultaneously attacked the villages. DRC accused the ex-M-23 Movement (French: Mouvement du 23 mars), of masterminding the attack, an allegation that Bertrand Bisimwa, the M23 President strongly refuted. 

At least 11,000 people crossed the border into Uganda between Sunday and Monday, following the attack, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).  These included 8,000 asylum-seekers who crossed at Bunagana town and another 3,000 at Kibaya border point in Kisoro district. 

Due to the overwhelming number, some were taken to the Nyakabande Refugee Transit Centre while others remained at the Bunagana border. But some of them started returning home on Tuesday afternoon, after a meeting between Kisoro district and Rutshuru territory security and political leaders at the Bunagana border which realized that calmness has been restored in the affected villages.

It was also after General Sylvain Ekenge, the Deputy Spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC), issued a statement confirming that the Chanzu and Runyoni had been recaptured by the government troops.    

Rocco Nuri, the UNHCR Senior External Relations Officer for Uganda told our reporter on Wednesday afternoon that a total of 960 Congolese nationals were still camped at Nyakabande Transit Centre and not willing to return back. Nuri says that relevant authorities are being screened for COVID-19 and children are being immunized against killer diseases to make sure that their health and welfare are safe.

He also says that in case they don’t reverse and resolve to return to DR Congo, they will be transferred to a gazetted refugee camp after 14 days.

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Kigezi Regional Police Spokesperson Elly Maate said that the security has been beefed at the Ugandan side of the border to ensure the safety of both refugees and residents. “At the moment, the situation appears in control and there is no cause for alarm. We continue to see more refugees leaving for their homes and this is encouraging,” says Maate.  

Kisoro District Chairman Abel Bizimana says that there is an urgent need for the government to help the Bunagana Town Council in normalizing the effects of the unexpected stay of refugees there. According to Bizimana, the influx is an indication that Bunagana should be equipped with necessities like enough toilets, water supplies and standby transport means to save the situation. 

“We noted that some of the people’s gardens were destroyed by animals that had been brought in by refugees. Due to the unavailability of latrines in the area, the place is all littered with human waste and If nothing urgent is done here, there is a likelihood that our people might get infected with diseases like Ebola and Cholera among others,” Bizimana says.  

Meantime, business and normal life has resumed in Jomba and Chanzu villages, according to Damien Sebusanane, the President of the Civil Society in Jomba.  Sebusanane says that peace is also returning in the city of Goma. He however says that business owners are registering losses and damages of their businesses resulting from the Sunday-Monday attack of the rebels. 

Sebusanane says that traffic has resumed normally long the Goma-Rutshuru-Butembo road since its paralysis on Sunday night. He however says that unusual deployment of security guards in all strategic corners as well as patrols all night in all the affected areas and Goma is being observed.  He wants authorities to strengthen security measures in the region arguing that the enemy is not too far away.

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