New camp opens for Congolese refugees in Rwanda


The UN refugee agency has begun moving Congolese refugees from a crowded transit centre in Rwanda to a new camp under construction in the south of the country.

UNHCR transferred 141 refugees from Nkamira transit centre to Kigeme camp on Sunday, while a second group of 149 people was moved yesterday. The move will help decongest the transit camp at a time when people continue to cross the border to escape instability in Democratic Republic of the Congo’s North Kivu province.

“Kigeme is a tented site. One hundred tents, each capable of holding five refugees, have been erected so far, and a further 50 are being put up daily. The site has latrines and a shower block, but is limited in size,” UNHCR spokesman, Adrian Edwards, said. “We have approached the local authorities to seek more land deeper in the forest.”

The refugees at Kigeme will have access to local health services, and a health centre is likely to be created inside the camp to provide immediate treatment to the refugees. Refugee children will be able to attend schools run by the local diocese.

Meanwhile, Congolese continue to arrive at Nkamira, which is located some 20 kilometres from the border. More than 12,500 people have arrived since late April, including 618 over the weekend, to escape on-off fighting between government troops and renegade soldiers loyal to alleged war criminal Bosco Ntaganda. Rwanda was already hosting about 56,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

And in south-west Uganda, UNHCR is seeing steady arrivals at the Nyakabande Transit Centre. On Monday 205 people registered, and some 9,000 were registered in total at the camp, but 5,859 were actually staying there. Most of the new arrivals in the past few days have come from spontaneous sites for internally displaced people inside North Kivu. As in Rwanda, UNHCR is seeking to move people to refugee settlements to decongest the transit centre.

Fighting between government troops and renegade fighters in North Kivu since April has left more than 100,000 people displaced, including those who have fled to Rwanda and Uganda’s Kisoro district. Since the start of the year, UNHCR has registered more than 22,000 Congolese refugees at the Nyakabande transit centre in Uganda, where they receive temporary shelter and assistance, such as cooked food, basic household items and medical care.

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