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The Africa Report: 15 July

EWN’s Africa correspondent Jean-Jacques Cornish reports on the day’s top African news

FILE: Refugees from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) wait on 13 July 2013 at the Busunga border in western Uganda. More than 30,000 refugees from the eastern DRC have crossed the border into western Uganda's Bundibugyo district after rebels from a Ugandan-led rebel group, the Allied Democratic Forces, attacked the town of Kamango in the northernmost part of North Kivu province. Picture: AFP

OVER 60,000 FLEE EASTERN DRC

Thousands of people have fled the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to escape attacks by rebel fighters in the region, hoping to gain refuge in neighbouring Uganda.

The Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) have reported a total of 65,473 refugees who crossed the border to Uganda and were moved to a transit camp in Bubukwanga Sub Country.

URCS Secretary-General Michael Richard Nataka estimates that the organisation will need approximately $965,000.00 to address the immediate needs of the refugees, reports Catherine Ntabadde Makumbi of the URCS.

URCS have also registered 41 minors who fled the eastern DRC without their families.

The number of refugees are expected to rise - stretching humanitarian capacities further - as the initial total was 30,000 on Saturday and more than doubled by Sunday evening.

The region under siege, DRC town Kamango, was initially taken by Ugandan rebels, the Allied Democratic Forces who are opposed to the Ugandan government, and was reclaimed by the Congolese National Army, leading to the surprise rebel attack.

Currently deployed to with powers to attack the rebels is an African special intervention force made up of South African, Tanzanian and Malawian troops.

To make a donation to the URCS, please visit www.redcrossug.org

_

SEMI-AUTONOMOUS SOMALI REGION DELAYS LOCAL POLLS

Somalia's semi-autonomous region, Puntland, has suspended local elections amid fears of increasing violence.

The local elections were set to commence on Monday but have been postponed indefinitely.

The United Nations Special Envoy for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, has approved the postponement saying the decision was a wise one following violent clashes in the region.

Puntland is located in the north-eastern region of Somalia, bordered by the independent Somaliland region, and attained semi-autonomy in 1998.

Somaliland recently held local and presidential elections, both of which occurred in a mostly peaceful environment.

_

FRENCH HOSTAGE IN MALI LIKELY TO BE DEAD

The French government have announced that the two journalists who were kidnapped in June shortly after arriving in strife-ridden Syria are seemingly alive whilst the French geologist held hostage in Mali by al-Qaeda is allegedly dead.

Philippe Verdon was taken hostage in Mali 2011 by al-Qaeda forces and was announced dead by the terrorist organisation in March this year.

In March, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed to have beheaded Verdon in retaliation for France's military campaign in Mali which was relatively successful in driving terrorist forces out of the borders.

Authorities believe they have found the body of Verdon and are currently running tests to confirm identification whilst attempting to decipher whether Verdon died of poor health or if he was in fact killed by AQIM.

French president François Hollande spoke to his country on Bastille Day on Sunday, saying that the government are doing all that they can to rescue 53-year-old Didier François, an employee of radio station Europe 1, and 22-year-old photographer Edouard Elias who are in Syria.

It remains unknown what the reason is for the kidnapping of the two journalists who were taken captive shortly after arriving in Syria in June.

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