Several Congolese refugee children in Kisoro district are battling malnutrition. The children are among thousands of refugees who fled to Rutshuru territory, North Kivu province, following the outbreak of heavy fighting between the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels and Congolese government troops.
On June 13, 2022, the rebels raided the major Uganda-DR Congo border town of Bunagana and the neighbouring areas, forcing over 150 FARDC troops to flee into Uganda. The rebels claim that they are fighting bad leadership in DR Congo based on corruption, xenophobia, and discrimination. Now, health authorities in Kisoro district say that they have started receiving many cases of children suffering from malnutrition.
Dr. Benon Karekezi Rukunda, the Kisoro Hospital medical superintendent, says that they have so far registered eight cases of death resulting from malnutrition. According to Karekezi, some of the deceased children were staying with their parents in Bunagana town council while others were from the Nyakabande refugee transit center.
Karekezi says that investigations indicate that even those brought from Nyakababande transit centre arrived from Bunagana and Congo very malnourished.
He says that the bodies of the babies were buried in a cemetery in the district with the hospital meeting burial expenses since their parents could not cross with the bodies to Congo.
Sarah Abim, an official from Care and Assistance for Forced Migrants (CAFOMI), a humanitarian non-government organization, says that many of the children arriving at Nyakabande transit centre from their country are already malnourished.
Abim also says that however much humanitarian aid agencies provide refugees with three meals a day, they are only served posho, rice, and beans due to the huge influx. She says that there is a need to also add milk and soya to the menu as a way of fighting against malnutrition among the children.
New refugees are being registered at the Nyakabande transit centre on a daily basis.
Kisamo says that the centre has more than 17,000 refugees now. He says that their efforts are still focused on convincing refugees to accept and get transferred to refugee camps like Nakibale in Isingiro district, where they are able to get more adequate services.