In a concerning turn of events, authorities in Bundibugyo District are grappling with the disappearance of more than 900 Congolese refugees from camps in the area.
This group, part of 1,202 refugees fleeing suspected ADF rebel attacks in eastern DR Congo, arrived in Uganda on Sunday night.
While initially registered and screened, only 224 were transported to the Bubukwange Transit Centre by Wednesday evening.
Francis Senyondo, the district refugee focal person, suspects that the missing refugees have integrated into the local community, calling it illegal.
He urges village leaders and families to cooperate with efforts to return them to the transit camp, emphasizing the collaboration with the Uganda Red Cross in the identification and relocation process.
Sensitization efforts through radio programs have been employed to discourage residents from allowing refugees into their homes, highlighting the benefits of transit centers where government support is provided.
Concerns over competition for resources in the community, such as food and medicine, are cited as reasons for urging refugees to stay in the transit centers until their areas stabilize.
It’s worth noting that many residents in Bundibugyo District have relatives in DR Congo, contributing to cross-border movements for cultivation and clan visits.
The registered refugees comprise 293 adults, 293 children aged 0-4 years, and 516 children aged 5-17 years.
While the influx of refugees has halted due to the flooding of River Lamia, security measures at the border remain heightened to prevent suspected ADF rebels from entering Uganda.
Residents express worry over the security threat posed by refugees integrating into the community, calling for local leaders to identify and relocate them to camps for safety.