By Longino Muhindo & Alex Ashaba
More than 1,000 Congolese refugees yesterday fled to Bundibugyo District in western Uganda following reports of fresh attacks by suspected rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The refugees reported an attack on their villages by ADF rebels on Sunday night in the areas of Kichanga, Watalinga County in Beni District in DR Congo. The rebels allegedly killed an unknown number of community members, prompting residents to flee.
According to Lt Col Alex Bright, the Bundibugyo resident district commissioner, at least 16 people were killed during the Sunday attack. He said refugees are currently being temporarily accommodated at Butoogho Primary School and Butoogho Saira Church of Uganda in Bundibugyo.
“The latest information we had is that at least 16 people have been killed. Many Congolese have run into Uganda, so we’re planning to take them to Bubukwanga transit camp here in Bundibugyo where they can get health care, food, shelter, and also security,” he said.
The RDC added that local council leaders and development partners have began the process of registering the refugees, directing them to the Bubukwanga transit camp and hoped that the Uganda People’s De- fence Force (UPDF) and their Congolese counterparts would manage the situation.
One of the refugees, Ms Beatrice Lukulwabho, who sustained a head injury during the attack, recounted the events, stating that ADF rebels attacked her village at around 11 pm on Sunday.
“They (ADF rebels) found us still awake and attacked my daughter-in-law, who was breastfeeding her newborn child. I came running with the child, and we don’t know her mother’s whereabouts,” Ms Lukulwabho said yesterday.
Another refugee,Mr Richard Ngonzi, 18, said after rebels fired bullets at their house,he and his parents fled to Uganda.
“We had to run to Uganda because we know that there is peace. Some of my friends were killed, and I don’t know when we shall go back. The good thing is …we are safe,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Francis Senyondo, the district focal person for refugees, reported that organisations such as Save the Children, Uganda Red Cross Society, and Medical Team International are assisting the refugees.