By Patson Baraire
A new wave of fighting between the M23 rebels and the Democratic Republic of Congo government soldiers has forced another 1,000 people to take refuge in Uganda.
The rebels are reported to have overrun Nyamirima, Buganza and Nyakakoma towns, all in Rutshuru area, after heavy fighting with the government forces, forcing people to flee.
The refugees, mostly women and children, began trickling into the country through Ishasha border post on September 14.
They were temporarily being sheltered at Kihiihi Police Station awaiting to be transported to Nyakabande transit centre in Kisoro district.
Jean Bosco Kamanzi, a refugee who is a teacher by profession, on Saturday said he had counted five dead bodies of civilians as he fled towards Ishasha.
“The situation has become unbearable because there in nobody to care for the civilians. The fighting forces are only showing off their superiority,” Kamanzi said.
Kanungu deputy resident district commissioner Juuko Kasiita, who is supervising the exercise of receiving the refugees, said they have been registering about 200 people every day except for Friday when the number shot higher.
“We have seen more refugees coming in unlike in the past when they would come in groups of 10 or 20. Our duty is to ensure that they are all registered,” Kasiita said.
He, however, warned the people in Uganda who have got relatives among the refugees to avoid hosting them in their homes. Kasiita said such a gesture is against international law. He appealed to them to direct them to local council officials for guidance.
Meanwhile, the security authorities in Kanungu have asked the people to stop crossing the border into Congo with immediate effect, saying their security cannot be guaranteed.
Many people in Kanungu district in the towns of Butogota, Kihiihi and areas bordering Congo have been doing brisk business with their counterparts across the border while others have got gardens which they till during the day and return in the evening.
“We cannot guarantee the people from Uganda that their lives would be safe if they crossed to do business or attend to their gardens. We advise them to stop going there until the situation is calm,” Kasiita said.