KAMPALA, Uganda – More than 12,000 Congolese fleeing violence at home have crossed into Uganda since the end of last year, and Uganda is planning for an influx of up to 30,000 refugees from Congo, an official said Wednesday.
Scores of refugees enter Uganda every day and 200 police have been deployed to help manage border security, said Stephen Mallinga, Uganda's minister for disaster preparedness and relief.
"The refugees started coming in November and up to now they are still coming," Mallinga told The Associated Press.
Thousands of Congolese refugees are also fleeing into Rwanda.
Last November Congo voted in a contentious presidential election that stoked fears of violence in the eastern part of the country, where the Congolese army has limited authority. The east, with its vast jungle, is also roamed by countless militias, most notably one commanded by a renegade general whose forces are accused of committing atrocities against civilians.
Bosco Ntaganda is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity. The last several weeks have seen renewed fighting between the Congolese government troops and forces loyal to Ntaganda, who continues to elude arrest.
Mallinga's statement said that the Congolese are being resettled in four remote refugee camps in Uganda. Some Congolese come and go, he said, depending on the seriousness of any fresh signs of violence.
He said the World Food Program had supplied food provisions that may last only a month.
"The Government of Uganda calls upon the international community to appreciate the situation in the southwest and West Nile regions (of Uganda) in regard to refugees and put in place requisite resources to humanitarian agencies mandated to offer assistance and protection to refugees," the statement said.
Uganda has a history of hosting refugees escaping violence in neighboring countries such as Rwanda, where the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi tribe sent thousands seeking refuge in a sprawling refugee camp in western Uganda.
Along with the refugees from Congo, Ugandan authorities are planning for an expected influx of up to 10,000 South Sudanese fleeing tribal clashes as well as border tension between the two Sudans.
There are about 1,700 South Sudanese refugees in Uganda, according to Mallinga.