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Friday,October 30,2020 08:18 AM

Uganda Locks Out Volcano- Hit Refugees

By Vision Reporter

Added 20th January 2002 03:00 AM

Thousands of Congolese fleeing the devastating volcanic eruption in Goma, DRC have flooded the Ugandan border at Katuna seeking a safe haven.

Thousands of Congolese fleeing the devastating volcanic eruption in Goma, DRC have flooded the Ugandan border at Katuna seeking a safe haven.

By Grace Matsiko in Gatuna, Rwanda Thousands of Congolese fleeing the devastating volcanic eruption in Goma, DRC have flooded the Ugandan border at Katuna seeking a safe haven. However, for fear of a massive refugee influx into the country, Ugandan immigration officials have slammed the door in the face of those trying to enter Kabale through Katuna, as they wait for directives from Kampala. The tired and sickly refugees said they lost everything to the flowing lava. Areas in the city, which were not affected by the lava, were looted, they said. The New Vision team interviewed a family of 19 people quarantined in an open space on the Ugandan side of the border. “For the past three days, these children have not eaten. We give them water from the streams and wild fruits. We are not sure of when this will end. I’m worried my kids will die,” Patrick Basosila-Kambale, an electrician from Goma, said as tears rolled down his pale face. In Kambale’s group were three children whose mother Nani Wala was burnt by the ravaging lava. “The sick, the elderly and the children died in the fire. By the time we left on Thursday, at least 46 people had died,” Pauline Kikudi, formerly residing in Virunga, Goma, said. Kikudi, Kambale and another Goma resident Koko Karim reported massive looting in the areas of the city which were not affected by the flowing lava. They said, however, that the heavily guarded airport was not affected by the looting. On Friday, the Goma airport was reported engulfed by lava. As some of us were fleeing, others were busy looting everything they came across,” Kambale, who spoke in a mixture of Lingala, French and Swahili said. “The soldiers (rebels) tried to stop the looters by shooting them dead, but they persisted,” he added. The refugees pleaded with the Ugandan immigration officials to allow them cross through Kabale to Beni in the DRC. “Instead of going back to Kigali where we do not have relatives, we’d rather go to Beni and die from there. Those are fellow Congolese,” Jean Pierre Lumbala said. The refugees appealed for food, clothes and shelter. “Here at the border, they ask for money to use the toilets. Where do we get the money when everything was lost?” another refugee asked. As the refugees gave an account of their ordeal, a Congolese expatriate working in Uganda arrived from the burning city with a family of five. He was lucky he had travel documents and was granted entry. However some immigration officials said some Congolese had sneaked into Uganda before Saturday morning posing as businessmen. Many more are on the way from Kigali to Katuna. By 2.00pm, the refugees were still herded at Katuna. Ugandan immigration officials said a team of government officials was on the way from Kampala to assess the situation. Ends

Uganda Locks Out Volcano- Hit Refugees

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