Thursday 12 July 2012
Conflict ongoing in southwest Uganda; ShelterBox assesses emergency shelter needsPhotograph taken by Reuters/James Akena, courtesy the Thomson Reuters Foundation – AlertNet. Displaced Congolese families trek back into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after spending a night across the border in Uganda, July 10, 2012.
In response to continuing conflict in southwest Uganda, a ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) is assessing the need for emergency shelter and equipment in the African country.
Fighting between government troops and M23 rebel forces in North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has forced thousands of families to flee their homes into Uganda.
Many crossed the border through Kisoro and traveled more than 12 miles to the Nyakabande transit center, bringing the number of refugees to over 16,000. From there, many are being relocated 230 miles away to Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement in Kamwenge district, which currently has 13,600 refugees.
"The recent fighting, which was heavy and unexpected, resulted in thousands of people, including many women and children, entering Uganda within a very short time," said Riccardo Conti, head of the delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Uganda. "They arrive destitute because they have to leave everything behind when they flee the country."
A ShelterBox Response Team that has been in the African country responding to the Bududa landslide with the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) is currently en route to the Kisoro district. They will assess the need for shelter and other lifesaving equipment for the fleeing Congolese refugee families.
UK-based ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member David Webber demonstrating the ShelterBox tent to families displaced by a landslide in the Bududa district, July 2012.
'Call upon the international community'
Stephen O. Mallinga, the Minister for Disaster Preparedness, Relief and Refugees in Uganda said, "'The increasing refugee influx into the country is impacting greatly on the meager resources of the government and host community. In this regard, I would like to call upon the international community to urgently mobilize the requisite resources to enhance the government capacity of hosting refugees."
UK-based SRT members Dave Webber and Fiona McElroy will be joining the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), World Food Program (WFP), URCS, Medecins Sans Frontieres and Medical Teams International, which have been providing humanitarian assistance to refugee families at Nyakabande.
Instability and outbursts of fighting have been ongoing in the DRC. The rebels took up arms last April and named themselves 'M23' after a failed peace agreement was signed on March 23 three years ago.