He told Parliament how criminal elements from South Sudan are slipping into refugee camps “because there is no way of cross-checking “their credentials back home
The near-collapse of the South Sudan government at the height of the civil war six years ago and the ‘absence of government’ in many parts of its regions is impeding efforts to screen genuine refugees from that country.
Musa Ecweru, the state minister for disaster preparedness whose docket handles refugee issues on Wednesday told Parliament how criminal elements from South Sudan are slipping into refugee camps “because there is no way of cross-checking “their credentials back home.
Echweru’s revelation follows an incident in Moyo last week during which a South Sudan refugee disarmed a police officer and injured another.
The incident was brought to the attention of Parliament by area MP, Tom Alelo Azaa (West Moyo County).
“We are aware of this incident. Currently, we are having a challenge of screening genuine refugees because there is an absence of government in some parts of South Sudan. This makes it hard to cross-check particulars of refugees,” Ecweru said.
The minister, however, told the House that security inside refugee camps is secure with law enforcement officers confiscating what he called “illegal item” like army uniforms and guns from refugees.
Moyo district is one of the districts that are hosting the largest number of refugees. And majority of these refugees are South Sudanese – many fleeing the latent civil war in their country.
However, quite often, as reported by area politicians, the tension between refugees and local people boil over resulting into brawls.
Incidents of South Sudan refugees crossing into Uganda with contraband material, including guns has been a major staple in Parliament.
Unlike many countries that restrict refugees to camps and life of living off food rations, Uganda has implemented an open-door policy that allows people fleeing strife to work and lead a dignified life.
However, the open-door policy, although lauded by international community has always resulted in tension between host communities and refugees as the case is in Moyo.
The tension has always been over limited resources as refugees stretch the capacity of schools, hospitals, and water available to the locals.
With close to 1.4m refugees, Uganda is only second to Turkey in terms of hosting refugees from different parts of the world.
With the United Nations aware of Uganda’s ‘struggles’ with an increasing refugee population, a solidarity summit held in June 2017 in Kampala raised over $350m although the aim had been $2b.