UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres is concerned about new inflows of refugees into Rwanda and Uganda from fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to UNHCR staff in Rwanda, more than 8,200 refugees have crossed from DRC since 27th April 2012, most of them staying near the border. These are in addition to the 55,000 Congolese refugees that Rwanda is already hosting.
In Uganda, government officials have told UNHCR that 30,000 refugees have arrived this month. Prior to this new influx, Uganda was already host to 175,127 refugees, including 97,424 from the Democratic Republic of Congo, 22,834 from Somalia, 18,873 from Sudan, and 16,116 from Rwanda.
"The displacement level we see in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is already disastrous," said Mr. Guterres. "Conflict there coupled with very limited access for humanitarian workers means that many thousands of people are without protection and help. And now people in need are appearing in neighbouring countries too."
Violence has afflicted the South and North Kivu areas of Democratic Republic of Congo over several years. But the situation has worsened in recent months amid recent fighting between government forces and soldiers loyal to former rebel commander Bosco Ntaganda.
Since November 2011, when presidential and parliamentary elections were held, an estimated 300,000 people have been newly displaced. This is on top of the more than 1.1 million people in the area who had fled their homes during earlier violence.
Countrywide in DR Congo, and including these numbers, more than two million people are now uprooted.