Congo refugees pour into Uganda after attack
Ugandan rebels attack town in eastern Congo, raising fears of a renewed campaign and a refugee influx.
The Red Cross is working with the UN and other aid agencies to set up a camp further inside Uganda
Reuters gives an update
The Uganda Red Cross Society said 66,000 Congolese refugees have so far crossed into the east African country since the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) started attacking the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo town of Kamangu on Thursday.
Families streamed across a bridge over a river near the border, clutching belongings. Some carried firewood over their heads, many brought livestock and women held small babies.
Al Jazeera's Malcolm Webb, reporting from the Ugandan side of the border on Friday, said people were so desperate to escape that some ignored the bridge and waded through the river.
“We heard rumours there were rebels coming but we did nothing," Evaketi Tibalumanya, a Congolese Refugee, told Al Jazeera, holding one of her nine children in her lap.
"Then they came by surprise at night. They caught a person and killed him. We escaped death because we ran away.”
I gather that a police station was over run and 9 police officers have been taken as hostages but that does not seem to be confirmed.
The Ugandan military said the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan rebel group that was driven across the border into the dense jungle of the DRC after a violent campaign in the late 1990s, overran the town of Kamangu on Thursday.
They briefly occupied it and, though they have since left, Ugandan military spokesman Paddy Ankunda said people are still crossing into Uganda for fear of the rebels. Ugandan troops have been sent to reinforce the border.
Who are the ADF ?
The ADF was formed by puritanical Muslim Ugandans of the Tabliq sect who merged with the remnants of another rebel group, the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda.The main figure of the group was Jamil Mukulu, a former Catholic. The members were largely from central Uganda, in particular Iganga, Masaka and Kampala, and portray themselves as religious crusaders. Beyond this vaguely stated religious ideology and statements that the government discriminates against Tabliqs, the ADF has given few coherent rationales for their insurgency.
The ADF chose western Uganda apparently for three reasons: terrain that is ideal for a rural insurgency, proximity to the DRC where the rebels could set up bases and recruit fighters, and the presence of some Ugandan ethnic groups unfriendly to the government that could offer assistance.
The ADF waged an insurgency against the Ugandan government in the late 1990s from bases in the Ruwenzori Mountains and across the frontier in eastern Congo. At its peak, it was blamed for a series of deadly blasts in the capital.
'No food, no shelter'
Recently carrying out only minor attacks on villages and units of DRC's army, the group had kept largely silent since the Ugandan government offensive against it in 2001.
Which begs the question where were the Congolese army FARDC ? It would appear they were joining up with Rwandan rebels to attack M23, an act astonishing stupidity. It would be hard to blame the Ugandan Army if they decided to act against the ADF rebels and made territorial incursions into the eastern DR Congo to suppress them. Fortunately the Ugandan Army has not gone down this road.
Aid groups and the Ugandan government are struggling to cope with an influx that took them by surprise.
“People have no food, they have no shelter, they are sleeping in the open. The classrooms that have been provided by the government are not adequate enough to accommodate the huge number of people,” Richard Nsubuga of the Uganda Red Cross told Al Jazeera.
I have been a fairly harsh critic of Museveni and Uganda but on the refugee issue they have behaved to date with extraordinary honour.
Ugandan soldiers kept a close watch on the refugees as they crossed the border and Paddy Ankunda, Uganda's military spokesman, told a news conference that the military was worried the rebels might join the influx disguised as refugees.
Ankunda also said the military feared the ADF could have gained attack skills from al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda-linked group operating in Somalia, that could be used inside Uganda.
That is a very reasonable concern.
Al-Shabab have carried out the attacks in Ugandan capital Kampala before to avenge Uganda's deployment of troops as part of an African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
DR Congo: FARDC fails Kamangu
Al Jazeera reports