At least 30 asylum seekers from Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda have been arrested in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on charges of illegal entering and staying in the country.
Reports we have received suggest the people arrested “are mostly asylum seekers who have no information how to start the [process of acquiring] refugee status,” Pecos Kulihoshi, regional coordinator of the Global Refugee Leaders Forum, said in a statement on Thursday.
The foreign nationals were picked up in military operations in the Mikeno and Mapendo areas of Goma, the capital of the eastern North Kivu province, according to the statement.
Kulihoshi said parts of DR Congo are under a state of emergency as the army is conducting operations to flush out rebels of Uganda’s Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
Any foreigners found in the conflict regions “are taken to be rebels or their coordinators,” he said.
He said the organization will be following up on the cases but urged all asylum seekers in DR Congo to report to local authorities or an office of the UN Refugee Agency to get themselves registered.