South Sudanese Refugees In Uganda Riot Over The Change Of Food Distribution Centre

Over five hundred South Sudanese refugees camping in Bidi-Bidi zone one based in Uganda protested against the decision of the World Food Program to merge their food distribution centers with a far away centre last week.

South Sudanese Refugees In Uganda Riot Over The Change Of Food Distribution Centre
Angry refugees set fire at UNHCR offices in Bidi-Bidi camp [Gurtong photo|Daniel Friday]

By Daniel Friday Martin

ARUA, 28 December 2018 [Gurtong]
-The refugees said they were not consulted by the WFP before announcing its unilateral decision changing their food distribution centre. “I am sorry to say this, our rights as refugees have not been listened to by the humanitarian organization WFP” said one refugee Justus Michael.

Justus said some refugees in Uganda have not gotten food rations for the past three months and spent Christmas Eve without food.

Mr. Justus is appealing to the office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to look into the refugee issue and ensure that their demands are met.  He said they have presented an apology to the government of Uganda for any destruction caused.

“We are sorry for what has happened because the people are hungry. I hope this marks an end to violent strikes in Bidi-bidi camp” he added.

The refugee community leader urges WFP and other humanitarian organizations operating in the camp to cooperate with the local refugee community leaders on the ground if they want to see successful implementation of its programs in the refugee camp.

Another refugee Nelly William said many expectant and lactating mothers, the aged women and disabled refugees were unable to move long distance just to get food rations from another location.

“The refugees went into violent demonstration because they were not happy, what will happen to the old women, the pregnant mothers, the disabled and the old women on the long road once they travel for a long distance to receive  food. What about if young girls and ladies are raped in the forest who will be answerable?” She asked.

She is asking the WFP and office of the prime minister  in Uganda (OPM) officials to cancel its decision and consider serving the refugees at their initial food collection points within the settlement camp.

Solomon Osakan, a refugee desk officer in Arua regretted what happened and said efforts are in place to address the situation. “ We are working very hard with the WFP, UNHCR and other partners to address this situation and resume distribution of food after certain procedures are completed soon” he added.

Heavy several security personnel comprising of UPDF and Police had been deployed in Bidibidi refugee base camp after the riots according to local officials in Yumbe district where bidi-bidi settlement camp is located.

Yumbe LC5 chairman, Taban Yasin confirmed that ten vehicles belonging to UNHCR and OPM and some office furniture were destroyed and papers littered on the compound before the security personnel could swing in to action to calm the situation.

He however, said the situation has remained calm after the riot. The local government official said food agencies operating at the camp have been tasked to reverse the merging of food distribution centers and ensure timely distribution of food rations to the refugees.

Josephine Angucia, the police spokesperson for West Nile region also confirmed the incident but said the situation was brought under control by the local authorities based in the area.



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