Uganda reopens borders to receive refugees from DR Congo

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Hilary Onek

UGANDA, on Wednesday, temporarily opened its borders to receive thousands of people fleeing deadly ethnic clashes in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a spokesperson for the United Nations refugee agency said.

Hilary Onek, Uganda’s Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness, and Refugees, launched a three-day exercise to receive and provide asylum to an estimated 10,000 refugees in the northwest border district of Zombo.

Duniya Aslam Khan, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Uganda, told Xinhua by telephone that the asylum-seekers, who have been stuck between Uganda and eastern DRC since May, will be put under quarantine for 14 days against COVID-19.

“Yes, the exercise has started; the border will be open for three days to allow all those asylum-seekers who are willing to cross.

“It’s voluntary; people who chose to come will come and those who may decide to stay there will remain,’’ Khan said.

According to her, they will be brought to the quarantine centre where they will stay for 14 days during which they will be tested for COVID-19.

She added that after the 14 days’ quarantine they would be shifted to any of the refugee settlements.

On Monday, authorities delayed reception of the DRC refugees over security concerns.

The suspension followed an incident in March when some from DR Congo and Uganda attacked an army unit in Zombo.

Three soldiers and 17 attackers were killed in the incident.

On Tuesday, Onek told Xinhua that the authorities would carry out proper security checks before allowing refugees into the country.

Uganda, in March, closed all its border entry points to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

According to the UN refugee agency, Uganda hosts some 1.4 million refugees, mostly from neighbouring South Sudan, the DRC, and Burundi. (Xinhua/NAN)

– Jul. 1, 2020 @ 15:45 GMT |

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