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Covid-19: Urban refugees miss food ratio

By Gaaniko Samson

South Sudanese refugees living in urban towns of Arua and Koboko Districts said they were not able to receive the food ratio due to travel ban over coronavirus.

Last week the government of Uganda banned public transport and urged its citizens to stay at home.

Speaking to Juba Monitor, Aringu Peter, chairperson South Sudanese Refugees Association thanked Uganda for the strict measures it has taken to contain the spread of the virus.

He said they have been considering Uganda as their second home but said the worst part of the measures has completely turned refugees into most vulnerable community.

“The refugees have no land to cultivate, no village where they can go and collect some food items,” he said adding, “Many are locked in the towns and they cannot get their food ratios from the settlement.”

He added that during his address to the nation, the Ugandan prime minister only talked about how the government could help the citizens during days of lockdown.

He said the government forgot the biggest population of the refugees affected in Uganda with mega resources and banned on public transport.

Peter said it was impossible for the urban refugees living in Arua and Koboko towns to travel to the camps to collect their food ratio.

Peter requested Office of the Prime Minister and UNHCR to allow those in the settlement to receive the food on behalf of their relatives who are in the towns.

Solomon Osakan the Refugees Desk officer in the office of the Prime Minister department of Refugees admitted that urban refugees will have to miss that food unless they have any alternative.

“There is no public means of transport, they have to walk to the camps or use bicycles if they can,” he said.

Osakan revealed that food has been reduced due to the outbreak of the covid-19 in those affected countries that used to support the refugees program.

He said in the policy any refugee was supposed to stay in the settlement camps not in the urban centers saying anybody who stays in the town means they are able to meet their own cost.

Amiatge Baskania, the settlement camp commandant for Imvepi Refugee settlement said no doubt those in towns will have to miss their food since public transport has been stopped as a measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

He said they were supposed to live in the camps not in the towns saying those who live in the towns have the effort to support themselves.

Amitage said they regret the reduction of the food ratio but said the donor countries that used to donate have been affected with the virus.

He appealed to the refugees to follow the measures put by the government to prevent the spread of the covid-19.

However, Grace Arona 63-year-old South Sudanese refugee living in Arua Town said they were living in Arua town due to access to better education for their children.

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