In December, armed conflict in the Ituri and North Kivu Provinces in the Democratic Republic of Congo caused mass migration of Congolese into Uganda. At the end of 2017 it was estimated that around 8,000 refugees had fled into west and southwest Uganda.
Samuel with his wife and child in front of his temporary home in Kyangwali Settlement Camp
Samuel is a refugee and has been resettled in Uganda.
He was a resident of Rutshuru town in North Kivu province. When the armed groups clashed, he had no options but to flee with his family. He is still finding his feet in the new settlement together with his wife and a son. They have been allocated a piece of land and materials to build a temporary structure as they settle. “I arrived 2 weeks ago and was taken to Transit Center. I have been resettled but I am still sad. I have seen so much pain and suffering and I never want to return” Samuel explained.
As much as he made it across to Uganda, his family is broken.
He lost his 3 children who were aged 4, 6 and 9. “My three children did not make it across. We ran and they got lost and I assume they are dead” he added.
This is the norm in the settlements which mostly comprise of women and children. “All the women you see here (he says as he points to a small group where his wife is seated and nearby temporary shelters) were raped on the way here and if they resisted they were executed” he added.
Some refugees have managed to get reunited with family members who got separated. He holds on to slim hope that his children may be found. “I hope someday that I would be reunited with my children. If not all three at least even one. However, I know this is unlikely to happen. I am saddened that I cannot even bury them in case they are dead” he added.
With limited agencies and organizations responding to the DRC refugees, facilities are stretched, shelters at the collection points overcrowded, and sanitation poor.
At Nyakabande Transit Center in Kisoro, 9 out of every 10 women were raped on numerous occasion as they fled to Uganda. “All these women who make it here were victims of rape and other forms of gender based violence. 99% of the women who are expectant in this camp will not be able to single out the fathers of their babies,” says Essau Dihikayo, the Settlement Commandant of Nyakabande Transit Camp in Kisoro District.
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