02:20 GMT +319 January 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The latest outbreak of violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has led to a sharp increase in number of refugees fleeing the country to neighboring Uganda, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly said Friday.

    "UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is witnessing a sharp rise in the number of people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) seeking safety in Uganda. More than 2,650 refugees have crossed the border this week, fleeing fresh violence in DRC’s Ituri province – five times the usual number of arrivals. Most of them are women and children," Pouilly said at a press briefing.

    According to the spokeswoman, the refugees are reportedly fleeing violence at Djugu territory in the northeastern Congolese Ituri province, where reports emerged on Monday of "houses being scorched in the area, and people being attacked with machetes and firearms." Over 20 villages have been abandoned by the residents so far, she added.

    "Inside Uganda, UNHCR is stepping up its capacity to meet the refugees’ needs. We are supporting the authorities to receive the new arrivals and transfer them to Kyangwali settlement, some 50 kilometers to the east. There, refugees are registered, medically screened and provided with hot meals and basic relief items," Pouilly said.

    She stressed that over 230,000 refugees from Congo were already residing in Uganda, alongside some 1.2 million refugees from other countries.

    "In total, the number of Congolese refugees in neighboring countries has increased by almost 100,000 people in the space of one year, reaching over 623,000 by end November," Pouilly noted, adding that the majority of them settled in Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.

    READ MORE: Attack in Eastern Congo Kills 14 Peacekeepers, Injures Over 40 — UN

    The Democratic Republic of Congo has been suffering from instability since the mid-1990s when the country became mired in conflicts. The Second Congo War, also known as the Great War of Africa, ended in 2003, but clashes continued in the eastern areas of the country, where various rebel groups continue to operate.


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    refugee, violence, refugees, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda
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