By Moses Mulondo
UGANDA government is overwhelmed by the influx of refugees as the number of refugees in the country has reached 317000.
This was revealed yesterday at the Media Centre in Kampala by the disaster preparedness minister Musa Ecweru who indicated that most of the refugees are coming from DRC Congo and South Sudan.
Ecweru said other refugees are from Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda.
Since the outbreak of the South Sudan war in mid December last year, 50332 refugees have settled in Adjumani, 8755 are in Arua and 7162 are in Kiryandongo refugee settlement.
Regarding refugees from DR Congo, the minister said that even after cease fire agreement between M23 rebels and the DR government; refugees have continued to come to Uganda.
In July 2013, 5000 persons were expelled out of Tanzania and entered Uganda through Kikagati and Mutukula boarder posts. The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) together with the United Nations relocated 4260 of the 5000 at Sango Bay camp.
The OPM is planning to issue identity cards to all the Sango Bay camp inhabitants for improve security and better camp management.
Ecweru said government needs sh22b to facilitate permanent settlement of 4024 of the expellees and repatriation of 500 non-Ugandans.
The minister said from the verifications they done so far about these expellees, majority of them (4024) are Ugandans who migrated to Tanzania in the early 1960s. Of the remaining number, 52 are Rwandese, 40 are Burundians, and 5 are Tanzanians.
Concerning the refugees from South Sudan, Ecweru said government has just discovered that a big number of refugees from South Sudan fled with a lot of money and are using it to rent houses in various towns in Northern Uganda.
“We have already directed local authorities to identify the refugees who are not in the camps to be registered,” Ecweru said.
The minister said given the high influx of the refugees, government is seeking sh210b to be able to look after all the refugees in the next six months.
In looking after these refugees, Ecweru said, government is grappling with many challenges which include poor sanitation and hygiene, inadequate water supply, old fleet of OPM vehicles used, negative attitude by host communities towards new arrivals, harassment of service providers by refugees, and poor road network in settlements among others.