By Insight Post Uganda
The number of refugees escaping fresh violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has surged, with 1,202 individuals seeking safety in Uganda through the Butoogo border point, according to the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS).
The influx is attributed to intensified attacks by the rebel group – Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in the Eastern DRC, prompting a humanitarian response to aid those fleeing the conflict.
URCS spokesperson Irene Nakasiita revealed that, as of Tuesday afternoon, the refugee population had reached 1,202 individuals, comprising 219 households.
The Red Cross, operating in collaboration with the Office of the Prime Minister, public authorities, district officials in Bundibugyo, and other partners, is coordinating efforts to provide support to the arriving refugees.
“We acknowledge that others are using porous border points, and our volunteers are deployed to offer lifeline communication, guiding people to designated areas,” Nakasiita stated.
The Ugandan government has established the Bubukwang transit center for the arriving refugees, where they are directed upon entry. However, Nakasiita noted that some individuals remain at the border points, monitoring the situation, with the hope of returning home once conditions stabilize.
“It’s difficult to offer support to those who are still at the border point and those moving within the communities, but we will continue to monitor the situation and provide humanitarian assistance to those who come into the country as refugees,” Nakasiita affirmed.
In response to the escalating crisis, Lt. Col. Bright Alex, the Resident District Commissioner (RDC), reported preliminary information indicating that suspected ADF rebels attacked communities in Kichnaga, Watalinga County, Beni District on Sunday night.
The assault resulted in the tragic loss of more than 16 lives, adding urgency to the unfolding humanitarian situation.
The URCS and other humanitarian agencies are working tirelessly to address the needs of the refugees, highlighting the pressing demand for international attention and support to alleviate the suffering of those displaced by conflict in the region.
As the crisis unfolds, the collaborative efforts of local and international organizations remain pivotal in providing timely aid to those affected by the violence.
In August 2023, the Uganda and DR Congo armed forces, as part of the joint operation codenamed ‘Operation Shujaa’ initiated on November 31, 2021, reported the successful elimination of at least 548 ADF rebels.
According to Maj. Gen. Dick Olum, the Commander of Operation Shujaa, disclosed that 50 rebels were apprehended alive, and 31 chose to surrender during the operation.
Olum noted that the joint efforts have notably diminished the ADF’s ability to engage in warfare, achieved through the capture of both manpower and weaponry.