Congolese Refugees Re-occupy Bunagana Market, Primary School

Congolese refugees fleeing fighting between government troops and the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels in Rutshuru territory, North Kivu province have re-occupied Bunagana market and Bunagana Primary School in Bunagana town council.

Fighting that had paused for more than two months resumed on Thursday.  Refugees who were camping in communities in Bunagana, Rukundo town councils, Muramba and Nyarubuye sub-counties, and Nyakabande transit center had crossed back to Rutshuru. 

On Saturday, refugees again fled to Ugandan after fighting intensified in Rangira and Shwema in the Jomba Groupement.    On Sunday at around 1:00 am, fighting erupted in Ntamugenga Kanyabusore, Charwika, Bugina  Mutovu in Bweza groupment, and Mungo in Busanza grouping.

Our reporter at the border saw refugees fleeing in thousands to the Ugandan side.  Fighting is happening about 10 kilometers from the Uganda-DR Congo border.     As United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) officials improvise transport means to take them to Nyakabande transit center, other refugees were seen again occupying Bunagana market and Bunagana primary school.

Kayari Kaberuka, Kisoro District Internal Security Officer says that so far, about 25,000-30,000 refugees had crossed to Bunagana town council after the situation in Rutshuru became too fragile since Saturday.      Kaberuka says that due to high numbers, authorities had no option but to allow them re-occupy Bunagana market and Bunagana primary school as a measure to transport them to Nyakabande transit center continue to be organized. 

He says that more refugees are still fleeing to Kisoro through porous border areas like Kibaya and Kanombe.

Colodine Maniriho, from Mungo-Rubavu village in Busanza grouping, one of the Congolese refugees found at Kibaya in Rukundo town council suggests that North Kivu should be added to Uganda so that peace can be restored forever. Maniriho says that the Congolese government has failed to stabilize the region. 

Both rebels and government troops are trading counter-accusations of the shelling on civilians.  Lieutenant Colonel Njike Kaiko Guillaume the spokesperson for sokola2 operations on Sunday accused M23 rebels of firing 82 mortar bombs at the population and claiming lives. 

Njike however did not reveal the number of deaths and causalities.  He says that the army remains determined to put an end to this enemy once and for all.     

Bertrand Bisimwa, President of the M23 rebels also issued a statement on Twitter saying that engaging in a new battle is threatening civilians.  Bisimwa however says that Kinshasa must assume the possibility of losing the war.      

On Sunday rebels claimed to have captured Ntamugenga. FARDC is yet to issue a statement.

The Ntamugenga village is strategic for the territory of Rutshuru, because it allows easy access to National Road number 2. The rebels use the area to cut traffic in the city of Goma.  By press time, fighting was still ongoing.    

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