Refugees riot over free food while Ugandans go hungry
South Sudanese refugees at Nyumanzi settlement camp on Saturday evening turned rowdy as they protested against food rationing. The refugee agencies had reportedly cut food supplies by half of what is usually given to them.
Nyumanzi settlement has more than 20,000 South Sudanese refugees, who mainly depend on food distributed by World Food Programme (WFP), UNHCR, Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and other non-governmental organisations.
Speaking to this reporter on Sunday, the OPM refugee desk officer, Mr Titus Jogo, said: “It is true there was protest but this came out of miscommunication by some of our leaders who told the refugees that this would be the last time for them to receive [rations]. This was wrong because we received a joint circular from WFP and UNHCR that they would only cut food for this month since they could not get the available food and give the balance in cash.”
Mr Jogo added: “Each person receives about 12Kgs of maize every month. So this time we were giving them six kilogrammes of maize and Shs8,000 to buy more maize. So when we explained to them, they understood.”
OPM officials called for a meeting with the refugee leaders, cultural and religious leaders to counsel the refugees.
Mr Jogo said the refugees should use part of their land for planting short term crops instead of relying on rations.
Early this year, WFP announced that it would cut food aid by half and this has been happening in the camps across the region. As a result, the refugees resorted to selling their items such as lamps and blankets to get some money to buy food.
During a recent visit to Imvepi settlement camp in Arua District, the UN Secretary General, Mr Antonio Guterres, said there was need for the world leaders to contribute to the management of the refugees and not leave it to Uganda government solely.