Some 10,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been forced to flee to Uganda after the latest wave of fighting between the Congolese government forces and the rebel group M23, the United Nations refugee agency said Tuesday.
According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the attacks occurred Friday near the DRC's border with Uganda's south-west Kisoro district. Bombs reportedly fell very close to the border, and even some areas of Uganda were also hit by the shelling.
The UNHCR began transporting refugees from the border to the Nyakabande transit center in southern Uganda earlier on Monday and more than 3,500 people were moved in the day, the largest number ever handled in a single day since fighting began in April last year, UN officials said here.
According to reports from the UNHCR, many refugees are making their own way by foot to the transit center despite cold and rainy weather, some of whom are suffering from dehydration and diarrhoea.
The majority of those who fled DRC are small children, and many have been separated from their parents while running from the border. The UNHCR said that it has so far received more than 100 children arriving on their own, who are being housed in separate tents.
The UNHCR estimates that there are now around 8,230 people in the transit center in Uganda, where Congolese refugees make up 65 percent of the entire refugee population and the majority of them have arrived in the last three years.
The UN agency is providing them with shelter, emergency relief items, as well as food supplied by the World Food Programme (WFP). Since the start of the year, UNHCR has assisted around 50,000 people arriving from the DRC.