1,500 flock to Uganda camps – 18 Feb 08

1,500 flock to Uganda camps

More than 1411 Kenyans who have fled the country after the eruption of post election violence have camped at a Ugandan camp, some 60km from Busia Town. Ms Yumiko Takashima, head of the UNHCR office in Uganda, said the refugees at the Mulanda Community Polytechnic Instructor’s College came from as far as away Kibera slums in Nairobi, while others were from Eldoret, Mt Elgon, Busia, Malaba and Nakuru. Ms Takashima said those fleeing were of different ethnic backgrounds. He assured them that Mulanda was safe for all of them. “We have decided to set up temporary tents with the hope that peace will return in Kenya so that those who have been displaced can go back to their homes once negotiations that are being headed by former UN boss Kofi Annan are complete,” she said.

Ms Takashima said there are enough food, but there was concern over the health facilities, saying they were being compelled to take patients to Tororo, about 20 kilometres away. Ms Takashima said sanitation, child protection, HIV and Aids and security committees, all headed by refugees, had been formed at the camp to address any problems that may arise. Save the Children has recruited some of the displaced teachers so that they can teach nursery and primary school pupils, but no one has come up to assist those in secondary schools.

On the other hand, the Mulanda villagers seem uncomfortable with the refugees, expressing fears over insecurity and social evils. “We want UNHCR to confine the refugees in those camps. We fear that when they are allowed to walk around, they may engage in criminal activities as well as promote prostitution,” said David Ssemaga.

The allegations are dismissed by members of the camp security team who sought anonymity. They claimed it was the villagers who were taking advantage of their plight to harass them. There should be no security concern since all refugees are normally in their camps by 11pm and Ugandan police patrol the area to ensure that no refugee is out past midnight, the team said.
Daily Nation

Pambazuka 

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