Leaders raise red flag over rising refugee population

Thursday October 14 2021
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One of the refugees sews clothes to make an income for her family in Adjumani District. PHOTO | MARKO TAIBOT

By Marko Taibot

The population of refugees in Adjumani settlements is increasing pressure on the already meagre resources, Daily Monitor has established.

District leaders say although new entrants have stopped, refugees are producing at a high rate.

According to data from the Office of the Prime Minister, Adjumani is a home to close to 236,000 refugees from South Sudan, more than the national population that stands at 232,000 according to the 2014 Uganda bureau of statistics (UBOs) report. 

The district chairperson, Mr Ben Anyama, said the conflict forced South Sudanese to send their children to Uganda to access better education and health services.

“When it is school time, our classrooms are filled to capacity, our hospital has a 100-bed capacity but currently the hospital is treating more than 500 patients, the maternity ward alone has 25-bed capacity yet right now it has 100 mothers and this means that services have to be compromised,” he said.

Mr Anyama said the environment has also been depleted as trees are cut down to make firewood and construct houses.

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The chief administrative officer, Mr Michael Wanje, said the open-door policy has led to an adverse impact on the resources.

“The district for the Financial Year 2021/2022 passed a budget of 70 billion for a population of 232,000 but now with an additional population of 236,000 refugees means another additional budget of Shs70 billion is needed to be able to deliver effective services,” he said.

The OPM’s Settlements Commandant in Adjumani, Mr Robert Andeoye, said the district has 19 refugee settlements and there are close to six UN agencies, as well as more than 50 non-government organisations providing services, including family planning.

“It is true the number of refugees here is more than that of the nationals and as such the Adjumani office does not register new entrants to the district, only on special arrangements. The number has grown due to the new born babies within the refugee settlements,” he said.

Income generation

Mr Andeoye said due to resource constraints, Care International with funding from the UNWOMEN, has been empowering women with income generating activities.

Ms Nancy Asibazoyo, the project officer Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), said women need to be empowered economically to cater for their families.

Ms Asibazoyo said their target beneficiaries are commercial sex workers, persons living with HIV/AIDS, survivors of gender-based violence, teenage mothers, widows and older persons.

Ms Sophie Anzoa, a widow in Women of Peace group, said they invested the Shs7 million they received last year, and have now raised Shs21million from their group business.

She added that this has also enabled them start their own businesses.

Ms Rose Minji, 39, from Maaji II block A1, told Daily Monitor that she came to Uganda in 2016 with five children and has found the intervention helpful.

The deputy country representative UN Women, Ms Adekemi Ndieli, who visited the district, applauded  the work of development partners and commended Uganda for its open-door policy that allows refugees to do business to supplement their resources.


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