Uganda Red Cross is responding to over 11,000 refugees from Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following heavy fighting in the villages of Binja, Kinyarugwe and Chanzu.
On 7th November 2021, heavy fighting between armed forces began in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the areas of Runyonyi and Tshanzu around the Virunga Mountains a few miles away from Uganda. The fighting caused a huge population movement from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Uganda.
Egbeble Mohamed moved from DR-Congo with his family and shares with us; “It was midnight, many people were sleeping but I was still awake. I heard gunshots and in a short time, people were running. I too feared and joined the group running. Our family is not far from the Uganda border Bunagana. We found ourselves here,” Mohamed narrates.
By morning on 8th November, thousands of Refugees had gathered at Bunagana Primary School in Bunagana town council and Kibaya market. Uganda Red Cross Kisoro branch deployed volunteers to work alongside the district officials to support and offer lifeline support to the new arrivals.
“We worked with the district officials. We had heard news of the fighting early in the morning, and already many people had camped at Bunagana primary school. Many were tired and needed rest so the Kisoro District Disaster Management Committee resolved that they should be taken to Nyakabamde Transit Center to acquire basic needs like medication and food,” Prim Rose Natukunda, Uganda Red Cross Kisoro branch said.
“As Uganda Red Cross we supported in the registering of those coming in as well as helping in tracing those that could not see their relatives through the restoring family links program, gave first aid to the injured, helped children to cross busy roads and gave families psychosocial support,” Natukunda said.
Rukundo Manasseh, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer and the Chairperson of the District Disaster Management Committee noted that the numbers were overwhelming but they tried to support with help from partners such as Red Cross. “We didn’t want to get other risks such as disease outbreaks like Cholera, Ebola or Covid 19. By morning, teams from Uganda Red Cross were on ground registering and offering support to the refugees,” Rukundo added.
According to the District Disaster Management Committee (DDMC) report of 8th November, an estimated number of 5000 people had fled to Uganda due to the fighting. However, on 9th November, the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo had calmed down which made some of the refugees go back home.
Currently about 1100 refugees are still at Nyakabande Transit Center and are receiving aid from the Partners on ground and the Government of Uganda.