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Uganda Set for Orderly Refugee Transfers in Wake of 107 Deaths

Uganda is to step up the orderly repatriation of refugees after a boat returning to the Democratic Republic of Congo capsized Mar. 22 on Lake Albert, leaving 107 people dead.

Uganda, which is home to 187,539 Congolese refugees, will hold a meeting with the United Nations refugee agency on April 14 to discuss the way citizens of Congo are repatriated, Hilary Onek, Uganda’s minister in charge of refugees, told reporters today in the capital, Kampala.

Refugees from Kyangwali settlement in Uganda’s western district of Hoima “made secretive movements” across Lake Albert, which is shared by the two neighbors, he said. About 150 people were aboard the boat, less than the 250 reported by the UN’s High Commission for Refugees, he said.

The refugees had decided to return home in the wake of the defeat of M23 rebels in eastern Congo late last year, Onek said. Forty five people were rescued, while at least 57 children were killed in the accident, he said.

Uganda has a total of 374,539 refugees, including 93,146 from South Sudan, 41,515 from Somalia, and 16,347 from Rwanda, while the rest are from Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Central African Republic and Pakistan, according to Onek.

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