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PRESS RELEASE

UNHCR News HQP100 P.O. Box 2500 CH-1211 Geneva 2 Tel +41 22 739 85 02 Fax +41 22 739 73 14 www.unhcr.org @RefugeesMedia

PLACE: Kampala, Uganda

DATE: 14 July 2013

Emergency response for influx of 66,000 Congolese refugees into Bundibugyo, Western Uganda
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) together with the Government led by the Office of the Prime Minister, and a number of humanitarian agencies, is mounting an urgent emergency response for the influx of some 66,000 refugees that have entered western Uganda from the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since 11 July 2013. Congolese refugees began streaming into Bubandi Sub-County in Bundibugyo District in the early hours of Thursday, 11 July 2013 following a reported attack by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) on the town of Kamango in DRC. The ADF is an Islamist rebel group said to be operating around the Rwenzori Mountains of North Kivu in the DRC. According to media reports, the group had left Kamango Thursday with DRC Government forces in pursuit. There is however no indication that the refugees will immediately return to their home areas. Refugees were still arriving on Saturday, mainly whole families with people carrying mattresses, pots and pans, and even poultry. By midafternoon Sunday, the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) said they had registered 66,139 people. Bundibugyo is a mountainous and densely populated area about a seven-hour drive from the Ugandan capital Kampala. The new arrivals are being received in five primary schools, at the sub-country headquarters and various other sites while others are within the local communities. Most immediately shelter, water and sanitation, and primary health care are of acute concern. UNHCR Representative for Uganda, Mr Mohammed Adar, said: This is an extraordinarily swift and concerning influx of refugees into an area with very limited preparedness to extend humanitarian assistance to such a large number of people. We are however moving to mount the initial response as quickly as possible while preparing at the same time for an enhanced operation. An emergency assessment mission involving the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), UNHCR, WFP and UNICEF took place on Friday and emergency supplies of food, water, tents and household items began arriving Saturday. UNHCR has sent plastic rolls for shelter construction, plates and cups for cooked meals, and temporary latrine kits as well as soap. Is has also assisted with fuel to move the refugees to the transit centre. An emergency shipment of tents, blankets and mats is also being organized for Monday.

The World Food Programme (WFP) delivered 54 MT of food supplies, enough to feed 20,000 people for five days. More food will arrive on Monday. The URCS has organized communities to cook and serve hot meals. URCS has also delivered tents and household kits. UNICEF has sent a water tanker to ferry water while initiating a process to deploy a collapsible water tank to the area. LWF is sending 20-litre jerrycans for use at the transit centre. MSF is sending a medical team and supplies, including two mobile clinics, as well as a much-needed water tank with seven distribution tap stands. On Sunday, UNHCR dispatched an emergency response team that will stay in the area to support protection, community services, health, and logistical issues. Additional technical staff will be deployed during the course of the week. Local authorities have identified a site in nearby Bubukwanga Sub County to relocate the refugees from the schools to. The site was being prepared as of late Saturday and is located about 8 km outside of Bundibugyo town in the direction of Fort Portal. Shelter, water and temporary latrines are being set up at the site. OPM began transferring people on Sunday afternoon to the newly established site / transit centre about 23 km from the DRC border. The first 300 refugees arrived in the evening and received hot porridge, and will be registered on Monday. The new site provides an easier environment to organize hot meals and distribute the various non-food items that have been sent for the refugees. Before the recent influx, Uganda was already hosting more than 210,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers, 63% of who originate from the DRC.
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For more information please contact: Karen Ringuette, External Relations Officer, Kampala Tel: +256 (0) 772 701115 Email: ringuett@unhcr.org Lucy Beck, Associate External Relations Officer, Mbarara Tel: +256 (0) 772 710137 Email: beckl@unhcr.org