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Police to deploy in West Nile refugee camps to quell violence

By Jonathan Driliga

Added 30th September 2016 03:49 PM

Bad blood in the camps is a problem for humanitarian aid workers to deliver services to the refuges

Security agencies, the Office of the Prime Minister and other aid agencies in the West Nile region have resolved to deploy Police officers in all refugee settlement camps in the West Nile region.

This was arrived at in a coordination meeting between aid agencies and authorities in Uganda’s West Nile Region on Wednesday.

The meeting in Yumbe district comes weeks after local authorities said there has been violence between South Sudan ethnic communities and unnecessary movement of the refugees in the camps.

Host communities have urged the refugees to be calm because they don’t want violence. 

Authorities said some South Sudanese refugees have resorted to ethnic violence in the camps especially in the Bidibidi Settlement Camp in Yumbe district.

Solomon Osakan, West Nile Refugee desk officer in the Office of the Prime Minister said some South Sudanese still have what he described as “bad feelings” among each other in the refugee settlements.

Osakan said the bad blood in the camps is a problem for humanitarian aid workers to deliver services to the refuges. 

“There are these bad feelings between the tribes of South Sudan and the Dinkas, it caused us a problem in zone two in Bidibidi. We had to relocate the Dinkas to another zone where they now feel peaceful,”Osakan noted.

Osakan said there is also unnecessary movement of South Sudan’s refugees from one place to the other without a known reason to the authorities within the West Nile region. 

Humanitarian organizations working to improve on the living conditions of the refugees and West Nile authorities have decided that Uganda provides security not only for the refugees, aid agencies  but also to protect the host communities. 

It is however unclear how many Police officers will be deployed in the refugee settlement camps and when the exercise will commence.

Osakan said deploying more security is vital for the aid agencies to deliver services in the camps.

“We needed to improve on the security; we need more police man power. Even in Rhino camp in Arua district we don’t have sufficient police power. Wherever we settle refugees, we need sufficient police man power” he said.

Osakan said the Police will sensitize the refugees and maintain law and order because many refugees don’t know the laws of Uganda.

He said security agents will also make sure that refugees do not commit crimes they do in their country like early marriage and inter-communal fighting which he said is contrary to the laws of Uganda.

“So we don’t want to allow them to commit crimes here which are not crimes in their country. The Police will be there to make sure there is law and order and they follow the regulations of the country. You know the refugees also have a duty to follow the laws of this country” Osakan emphasized.

Ariku Gasper, a host community member has appealed to South Sudan refugees to stay away from violence. 

He said the host communities have no problem with the South Sudan refugees but want them to stay peacefully.

“[For] us host communities here, we are helping these people for [to] build structures like houses and shelters for them. I just tell them not to be hash and then let us stay with peace in our country here” he added.

Uganda’s West Nile districts of Arua, Koboko, Yumbe and Adjumani are hosting thousands of South Sudanese refugees since July after fighting broke out in Juba and then spread across the country.

South Sudan has 64 tribes, majority of whom have a history of inter communal and revenge fighting - which act authorities said is against Uganda’s Constitution. 

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