Over 3,000 refugees fleeing ethnic clashes in neighboring eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have crossed into Uganda after a three-day temporary reopening of the country’s border entry point.
Duniya Aslam Khan, spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Uganda, told Xinhua in an interview that 3,056 refuges and asylum-seekers who have been stuck between Uganda and eastern DRC since May have crossed into Zombo district in the northwestern part of Uganda.
Khan said the refugees are now under quarantine for 14 days.
“We are closely monitoring the situation and working with the Government of Uganda to further improve protective and preventive measures in the refugee settlements,” she said.
Uganda last week on Wednesday temporarily opened its border for a three-day exercise to receive and provide asylum to thousands of Congolese refugees.
“UNHCR appreciates the Government of Uganda’s bold decision of reopening its border crossing points, temporarily, to admit thousands of stranded asylum seekers in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Khan.
“Uganda demonstrates that even within the COVID context, cross border movements can be managed to prevent risks of the virus spread while saving lives of those fleeing conflict through putting in place better screening quarantine measures,” she said.
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 neighboring South Sudan, the DRC and Burundi.