The number of Congolese refugees registered since the conflict between M23 rebels and the Congolese army in March has clocked 40,704, Daily Monitor has established.
The influx has, however, created competition for the resources shared with host communities.
The commandant at the Nyakabande refugee transit camp in Kisoro District under the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr Daniel Kisaamo, in a recent interview said of the 40,704 Congolese refugees, about 11,000 have been relocated to the settlement camps, while 17,706 are still at the transit camp and the rest are illegally scattered into the neighbouring communities.
“Inadequate water supply at the transit camp is our main challenge because of the dry season that has seen water sources dry up. We are currently relying on National Water and Sewerage Corporation supplies that are also not constant because of reasons well known to them.
“We still have a challenge of over 20,000 Congolese refugees that have refused be relocated to the transit camp and opted to stay in the border communities and yet we have enough food, health care and accommodation facilities for all of them,” Mr Kisaamo said.
Nyakabande refugee transit camp received 500 Congolese refugees between July 1 and 24.
Most of them came from Jomba, Gisigari, Bweza, Busansa, Goma, Masisi and Rutshuru in North Kivu province of the DR Congo.
The Kisoro Resident District Commissioner, Hajj Shafiq Ssekandi, who doubles as the chairperson of the district Covid-19 taskforce, said 154 Covid-19 tests were conducted last Wednesday (151 new arrivals and 3 for relocation) and they were negative.
“The cumulative number of tests for the new arrivals and positive cases since March 28 when Congolese refugees started crossing into Kisoro District are 31,561 and 614, respectively, discharged 03 clients from isolation leaving a balance 16 active cases at the end of the day,” Hajj Ssekandi said.
He added that about 1,000 refugee children that had left the transit camp to do their national examinations in the DR Congo returned safely and they were registered last week.
July 13 marked one month since the M23 rebels took control over Bunagana, the eastern main border town of the DR Congo.
The M23 rebel spokesperson, Maj Willy Ngoma, said they were not ready to vacate the area although Angolan President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, President Paul Kagame and President Felix Tshisekedi early this month agreed to an immediate cessation of hostilities between the two neighbouring countries and withdrawal of M23 rebels from Bunagana border town.
“Those saying that we immediately withdraw from Bunagana, where do they want us to go? We are going nowhere because we are Congolese nationals. We can’t go to Uganda or America because we are not citizens of those countries. We shall not withdraw our forces because we are citizens of this country,” Maj Ngoma said in an interview early this month.
The Kisoro District chairperson, Mr Abel Bizimana, said government should donate food relief to the people in the district.