Kisoro Authorities Re-open Nyakabande Holding Center Over Influx of Congolese Refugees

Kisoro authorities have opted to re-open the Nyakabande holding center following an influx of Congolese refugees fleeing fresh fighting in Rutshuru territory, North Kivu province. Fighting that had stopped for about two months, resumed on Thursday last week in Rangira and Shwema in the Jomba Groupement.  

Fighting also erupted in Ntamugenga Kanyabusore, Charwika, Bugina  Mutovu in Bweza groupment and Mungo in Busanza grouping on Sunday evening about 10 kilometers from the DR Congo-Uganda border of Bunagana. The fighting forced thousands of civilians to flee to Bunagana town council and Kibaya in Rukundo town council in Kisoro district. 

Due to the high number of refugees, Ugandan authorities were forced to allow them re-occupy Bunagana market and Bunagana primary school despite having chased them last month.  As a result, on Monday Kisoro authorities opted to re-open Nyakabande holding center to accommodate more refugees after they continued to flee in large numbers. 

Two weeks ago, authorities started demolishing shelters and compelling refugees to accept relocation to Nakivale settlement in Isingiro district or return to their home country. Daniel Kisamo, the settlement commandant of refugees at Nyakabande transit center in the office of the Prime Minister confirmed to our reporter that they have received communication from higher government authorities to re-open the holding center and start re-accommodating new asylum seekers.  

Kisamo says that the holding center which authorities had resolved that be the one remains operational as they close the holding center and currently hosts 5,000 asylum seekers compared to the space capacity of 825. He, however, says that the order from the authorities indicates that the holding center will operate for only two weeks.

Robert Tukamuheebwa, the Kisoro Deputy Resident District Commissioner also confirmed to URN that the holding center has been reopened. Tukamuheebwa adds that security is still on high alert to make sure that no asylum seeker gets into communities.     

Meanwhile, M23 rebels on Monday morning barred refugees from crossing to Rutshuru from Uganda to pick up their belongings. Refugees got stranded at the border for more than three hours and were later allowed to cross. By Monday midday, there was a lull of gun sound on the Ntamugenga and Rangira-Rwanguba-Kabindi front line.       

More than 500 civilians are seeking refuge at Ntamugenga health center in Rutshuru, according to Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) in the area.    

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