By Ambrose Kweronda
Security authorities are investigating 47 Congolese refugees for staging riots against their transfer from the Nyakabande transit center to a refugee camp.
The refugees staged protests on Tuesday to the extent of blocking the Bunagana-Kisoro-Kabale-Mbarara Highway after receiving news of their impending transfer to Nakivale refugees’ camp.
The authorities at the transit center tried to calm down the situation in vain as the rioters attempted to beat them. It took the intervention of anti-riot police to quell the protests.
Hajji Shafique Ssekandi, the Kisoro Resident District Commissioner, said police managed to arrest 47 rioters and detained them at Kisoro police station for inciting violence
He, however, noted that they were later released on police bond as investigations into the matter continue.
He also revealed that another refugee whose name has been withheld is in custody at Kisoro police station for attempted murder after stabbing his colleague with a knife in the stomach during a fight in Bunagana town council. The stabbing victim is recuperating at Kisoro hospital.
Emma Munyontore, the Deputy Commandant of Nyakabande transit center, said that 407 refugees were transferred to Nakivale camp in Isingiro district on Wednesday. So far there are 10,416 refugees at the transit center.
30,556 refugees have been registered at the transit center since March this year when fighting broke out between the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) and the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels in Rutshuru territory.
Munyontore says that some of the refugees protesting the relocation have hopes that the war will end soon so that they return to their home country.
Philippe Creppy, the Assistant Representative of United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Operations in Uganda and the Coordinator of Holding Kisoro Emergency, says that some of the refugees are tired of the situation.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Congolese on Wednesday held a demonstration in Goma attempting to cross to Rwanda through Gisenyi town. They accused the Rwandan and Ugandan governments of backing M23 rebels to conquer the Bunagana border.
Angry demonstrators marched toward the big barrier, while other demonstrators charged towards the small barrier. Others were seen carrying boxes and symbols of coffins with the effigy of the Rwandan President, Paul Kagame.
“Courage and bravery to our valiant FARDC, the M23, it is Kagame’s Rwanda,” read one of the banners. Rwanda police had to use tear gas to disperse the protesters from crossing into the Rwandan side of the border.
Lieutenant-Colonel John Harvey, the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) described the accusations against Uganda and Rwanda as “nonsense”.
Harvey told press in Goma today that MONUSCO has not seen or heard anything that Ugandans have betrayed their FARDC allies. He also wondered how Uganda, which actively participates in the fight – in collaboration with the FARDC and MONUSCO, in particular, against the Allied Democratic Forces-ADF group near the Beni region and in southern Ituri could have suddenly started betraying the Congo.
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