Kisoro district is stuck with over 7000 Congolese asylum seekers that fled a resumed war between the M23 rebels and Congolese forces (FARDC) in some parts of Eastern Congo last week.
Refugees are currently staying in Ugandan communities near the Democratic Republic of Congo including Bunagana Market, Bunagana primary school compound, Kibaaya land, bushes of Muramba, and others who are seeking shelter on verandas in Bunagana town council.
According to the Kisoro Resident district commissioner, Hajji Shafique Ssekandi Sengooba, most of these refugees had returned home two weeks ago after they had refused to be taken to refugee settlements as required by law.
He expressed his dissatisfaction towards these asylum seekers because they are still refusing to go to settlements even after returning to Uganda. He says that refugees like staying in Nyakabande because they get free food and also the need to always go back home to check on their gardens.
He also revealed that Nyakabande refugee holding center is being phased out as directed by the ministry of disaster preparedness. Ssekandi added that only those refugees willing to go to settlements will be picked by UNHCR from host communities to either Nakivale, Rwamanje,
Kyaka among other areas because UNHCR has also run short of funds to take care of refugees that are not in settlements.
Ssekandi says that measurable steps will be used to see off these refugees from host communities because Kisoro is now exposed to risks of contracting Ebola, Covid-19, and other Killer diseases that still prevail among Congolese nationals. He also noted that bad elements may also use refugees to enter Uganda and end up causing insecurity in the district.
A section of refugees who spoke to our reporter said, Nakivale has a lot of malaria and hunger that has claimed the lives of some of their relatives. They asked the government of Uganda to keep assisting them in Nyakabande because they come to Uganda to seek peace which is not in settlements.