News / Africa

Congolese Refugees Search for New Homes in Uganda

Several thousand Congolese refugees have crossed the Ugandan border, July 22, 2012.
Several thousand Congolese refugees have crossed the Ugandan border, July 22, 2012.
Andrew Green
Recent clashes between militia groups in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have driven more than 3,500 refugees into neighboring Uganda.  Worried about ongoing instability in their region, the refugees say they are now looking for permanent residence in Uganda.
 
Stability

Myesi Furaha’s village got caught in the middle of a skirmish between two rebel groups in the eastern DRC three weeks ago.  When she heard bombs exploding near her house, she grabbed her three children and ran for the Ugandan border.  She does not know what happened to her husband.
 
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports the fighting, now almost four weeks old, is between the Mai Mai militia and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, an ethnic Hutu rebel group.  Like most of the refugees in the camp, Furaha says she does not expect the new round of fighting in the war-torn region to end soon.
 
“I cannot go back in Congo because it has been like this for very many years.  I cannot go back to Congo," Furaha insisted. "I need to be in Uganda.”
 
Furaha is now one of more than 3,500 refugees living in Matanda Transit Camp in southwestern Uganda.  Camp organizers say hundreds more are still camped out along the nearby border.
 
Influx

Esau Bahikayo, the camp commandant, says they are receiving about a dozen new refugees each day.  Most of the arrivals are women and children.  As fighting continues, he expects the numbers to increase.
 
“We understand there is even fighting still going on, according to the refugees we are receiving.  More are coming.  Right now at some border posts, we are told there are others who have already collected there,” said Bahikayo.
 
Uganda’s Office of the Prime Minister is operating Matanda as a transit site until the refugees can be transferred to permanent locations.  Bahikayo says officials will begin registering refugees for resettlement this week.  They will then be taken to an U.N.-run settlement site in Rwamwanja.
 
Resources

The Matanda camp was originally built in 2008 to handle an earlier refugee influx from the DRC that reached nearly 30,000 people.  All of the refugees were resettled, but Bahikayo says much of the infrastructure remains.  There are food and water shortages, though, as well as a lack of sanitation facilities, which has raised health concerns.
 
“We are not giving them soap and they should have soap.  If we could have some potential organizations ready for some of these items, then that would be a service to the refugees here,” explained Bahikayo.
 
The sanitation shortages have so far only resulted in minor illnesses, according to camp officials.  Furaha’s six-month old son is one of dozens of people suffering from diarrhea.
 
Resources are still needed, though, to prevent more serious problems.  UNHCR is one of the organizations providing support to Matanda, as well as a larger camp to the south.  That camp is assisting 40,000 Congolese who fled North Kivu earlier this year after clashes between the M23 rebel group and the Congolese army.  The UNHCR has called on the international community for $20 million to shore up assistance to all of the Congolese refugees in Uganda.
 
Bahikayo says the Ugandan government and its partner organizations are committed to finding the resources to support the refugees until they can be resettled in Uganda or return to their homes.
 
Even with the food and water shortages, Maria Tawiha, one of the first arrivals in the camp, says she is not considering returning to the DRC.  “There are a lot of murderers in Congo, so I cannot go back,” she said.
 
Instead, she is willing to wait for a plot of land so she can set up a permanent home in Uganda.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid