Refugees split school desks for firewood
What you need to know:
- School administrators say the Congolese refugees used their desks for firewood.
School authorities in Bundibugyo District have asked the government to repair education institutions that were damaged by refugees from DR Congo.
Eight schools near Busunga border in the district have been acting as hosting centres for refugees who recently crossed into Uganda following attacks from Allied Defence Forces (ADF) in the DRC.
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The district school inspector, Mr Milton Kandole, last week said some of the primary schools whose properties were destroyed include Butogo, Busolhu, Kalera, Busu, Butogo, Bundingoma, Lamia, and Nyangonda.
“Some of our schools’ assets were damaged such as furniture because some refugees used desks as firewood. The pit-latrine facilities are also filled up,” Mr Kandole said. Class walls and doors were also damaged.
Mr Joackim Mubaraka, a teacher at Lamia Primary School, said the institution has a shortage of desks and pit-latrines.
He said they are preparing an assessment report on the destruction of school properties to submit to district leaders and the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) for intervention.
Mr Mubaraka said before the rebel attacks, their school had more than 200 pupils from Congo, but some have since left.
“We had an enrollment of 800 pupils, including more than 200 learners from DR Congo but the number has since been reduced by half because after the attacks, the learners went with their parents to the refugee settlement camps,” he said.
Mr Andrew Byamukama, the head teacher of Bundingoma Primary School, said they share one pit-latrine with more than 700 learners because the second one was filled up by refugees, adding that pupils do not have enough furniture.
“We have repaired some of the desks but many are still damaged. This has affected our learning process because we have 784 pupils,” Mr Byamukama said.
The district refugee focal person, Mr Francis Senyondo, said the OPM in partnership with aid agencies such as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and Care and Assistance for Forced Migrants are working on transferring all the refugees to Bubukwanga transit centre.
He acknowledged that the refugees, who were temporarily taking staying in the schools, destroyed some of the properties.
“We don’t have money to fix what has been destroyed, but we are planning to write to the OPM and UNHCR to seek assistance, ” Mr Senyondo said.
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As of February 21, the district had received more than 200 Congolese refugees at Bubukwanga transit camp, while 1,500 were taken to different resettlement camps.
During the lockdown last year, the Congolese refugees, who were staying at Rwamabale Primary School in Ntoroko District, also left the properties destroyed. The school was renovated after district leaders wrote to UNHCR.