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Fighting in Democratic Republic of Congo has left more than 100,000 displaced

Congolese civilians carry their belongings © UNHCR/S.Modola

Since April, fighting between government troops and renegade soldiers in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has left more than 100,000 people displaced. Amid continuing instability and bursts of fighting, civilians continue to cross into south-west Uganda and Rwanda.

The number of arrivals in Rwanda has now passed 12,500, as officials record a daily average of about 230 arrivals at Nkamira, a camp lying 20 kilometres from the crossing with DRC’s North Kivu province. 

UNHCR's priorities in Rwanda are to provide adequate health care and shelter for people at the congested Nkamira camp. Last week, eight cases of cholera were detected among the Congolese refugees. The small outbreak was contained, but it highlighted the problems that UNHCR, the government and other partners face in dealing with the influx.

To address the problem of shelter and congestion at Nkamira, the government has opened a new site for a refugee camp at Kigeme in the south of Rwanda. UNHCR is urgently putting up tents and transferring refugees to the new site. 
Refugees at Kigeme will have access to local health services, and a health centre is likely to be created inside the camp to provide immediate treatment to the refugees. Refugee children will attend schools run by the local diocese.

Meanwhile, in southwest Uganda, there is a steady stream of arrivals at the Nyakabande Transit Centre. As of the 11 June, the registered population stood at 9,000 people, most of whom have fled existing centres for internally displaced people in DRC itself. Many were living in a primary school 5km from the border. 

Since the start of the year, UNHCR has registered 21,500 Congolese refugees at the Nyakabande centre, a site 20km from the border where they receive shelter and assistance. Most of these people have been taken to refugee settlements deep inside Uganda, including almost 10,000 to the Rwamwanja settlement which is 370km north of Nyakabande. 

Meanwhile, thousands remain displaced within the DRC. UNHCR staff in North Kivu say most of the internal displacement is taking place in Rutshuru territory, north of the provincial capital, Goma. Between 10 May and 20 May one of our local NGO partners registered more than 40,000 internally displaced people in Jomba and Bwesa sectors.

UNHCR and other major aid organisations plan to start distributing food, medicine and other aid to the displaced, most of whom are living in school buildings and churches. Conditions are tough. Some of the displaced have reported cases of extortion, forced labour, forced recruitment of minors and beatings by armed men.

World Refugee Day 2012

Marked each year on June 20. Find out all about World Refugee Day here.