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Over 4,500 Congolese refugees flee into Uganda

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The United Nations refugee agency on Wednesday said over 4,500 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo had crossed into Uganda since Dec. 18.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in a statement issued here said the majority of the refugees are crossing into Uganda via Lake Albert which is shared by both countries.

The refugee agency said between Dec. 23-26, over 1,860 new refugee arrivals had been registered bring the total number to 4,584 refugees since Dec. 18.

“The new arrivals are reportedly fleeing inter-communal violence at Djugu territory in DRC’s Ituri region, including in the villages of Retso, Joo, Kobu, Kiripa, and Torogesi. Tens of new arrivals who crossed via Lake Albert are from North Kivu,” the statement said.

Women and children make up 80 percent of new arrivals.

The new arrivals have told the UNHCR that families are being separated due to the journey’s high cost, “exit” fees reportedly imposed by armed groups on the Congolese side of Lake Albert and forced recruitment of young men.

The agency said some 3,756 refugees have been transferred from Lake Albert landing sites to Kagoma Reception Centre in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement.

Some 1,512 have been already allocated a plot of land in Marembo C and provided with shelter materials and non-food items to help them settle.

One death has so far been registered. It was a 70-year-old woman who died upon arrival at the reception center due to complications of diabetes.

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