YUMBE. Two donor agencies were at the weekend turned away after officials from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) rejected their food items worth Shs100 million that was meant for distribution to refugees from South Sudan.
The 17.5 tonnes of maize flour and beans had been donated by Aramaic Relief International through World Action Fund to refugees in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement.
But the OPM officials led by the Bidibidi deputy settlement commandant, Mr Christopher Angualia, argued that the food items had not been tested for quality standards.
“If you had come with the certificates of approval, you would not have any problem but if we distribute this food to the refugees and they get any problem, we will be blamed,” Mr Angualia argued.
The executive director of World Action Fund, Mr Peter Odama, said permission to deliver the food items to the vulnerable refugee children in the settlement camps was granted by the OPM Kampala office but the responsible officers in the settlements failed to act.
“We were disappointed as we took the locally purchased food to be donated to the refugees as our Swiss Charity based organisation would like to send more support through WASH in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement,” Mr Odama said.
The South Sudan refugees, whose numbers have continued to rise, are facing acute food rationing by World Food Programme.
One of the refugees, Mr Gabriel Bol, said WFP had not supplied them their food rations of February adding that many of them had resorted to eating one meal a day.
“We do not have adequate food supply and the most affected are children and pregnant women who need proper feeding. But it is sad that food supply is being rejected,” he said.
The food items were later distributed to the hosting communities of Lugbari near Imvepi Refugee Settlement in Odupi Sub-county in Arua District and others in Romogi and Apo Sub-counties of Yumbe District.
The incident has allegedly angered the donors who have threatened not to go in areas where the UN agencies are present as the donors view them as ‘destructive.’
Bidibidi Refugee Settlement in Yumbe District is currently hosting more than 300,000 South Sudan refugees who are fleeing from the unrest in their motherland.
The settlement receives about 3,000 refugees daily though authorities have stopped receiving new entrants in the camp and re-opened Imvepi in Arua District.