Nearly 90 Congolese refugees fleeing fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have arrived in neighboring Rwanda, a local official said Monday.
“On Sunday afternoon, we received 89 Congolese citizens from 33 families, among them more than 50 children. They reported that they were fleeing clashes between government troops and M23 rebels,” Kambogo Ildephonse, the mayor of Rubavu District, in western Rwanda, told Xinhua.
“The refugees are temporarily sheltered by Rwandan families, but there is a contingent plan to support them as we monitor the situation,” he added.
The refugees entered Rwanda through the Kabuhanga border post in Rubavu District, reportedly fleeing weekend clashes in Ruhunda and Buhumba localities in eastern DRC.
Renewed fighting between Congolese troops and the M23 rebels has led to a complex and deteriorating humanitarian situation, according to the United Nations.
More than 188,000 people have been displaced, bringing the total number of civilians displaced since fighting broke out in March to more than 230,000, Stephanie Tremblay, an associate spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, has said.
Besides internal displacements, other refugees have fled to neighboring Uganda.
The DRC has accused Rwanda of backing M23 fighters, a charge Rwanda dismissed as a “scapegoating.” Rwanda has also accused the Congolese armed forces of colluding with the Rwandan rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda based in DRC.
The simmering tensions hit a new low last month after the Congolese government expelled the Rwandan ambassador to the country over the M23 rebels.
Angolan President Joao Lourenco on Friday met with his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame in the Rwandan capital of Kigali in an effort to defuse the tensions. Lourenco, who also chairs the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, later on Saturday held talks with DRC President Felix Tshisekedi. Enditem