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Fear of election violence in Uganda drive refugees home

By Gaaniko Samson Jerry

As the countdown continues for the general elections in Uganda on the 14th of January 2021, reports emerged that some South Sudanese refugees in Bidibidi refugee settlement in Yumbe district are voluntarily returning to the country for fear of elections in Uganda.

One of the refugees from Yoyo3 Zone Bidibidi refugee settlement, keeping his name anonymous told Juba Monitor that refugees are moving back to South Sudan.

“Many refugees are returning due to the violent situation and experience they had got in their home country and the recent exchange between oppositions and security leading to death in Kampala has caused panic among refugees,” he told Juba Monitor.

“Majority of the refugees have fear that this election might bring conflicts again since they don’t know what will happen,” the correspondent added.

The correspondent also said that they are now in Uganda and it is peaceful among many countries in the reason and they would not like to be refugees again.

“With that fear, many refugees have crossed the border saying many are saying if the elections go peacefully, they will have to return since Uganda is the peacefully country hosting millions of refugees,” the correspondent added.

John Kelei, a refugee from Zone 3 Bidibidi refugee settlement appealed to his fellow refugees to be clam because he believes the elections will be peaceful since this is not the first election in Uganda.

“I will not have fear because UNHCR is taking care of us, the government of Uganda is also taking care of all of us saying if they knew that the elections were going to bring war, they could not allow us to be brought here,” he added.

However, Samuel Peter, the refugee’s welfare chairperson 1 Village 5 zone 3 said, as a refugee’s leader, he learnt about the sudden departure of some of his neighbours but urges them not to panic.

“As a refugee leader, refugees should not listen to the rumours then believe in since our country South Sudan is not stable so what is the reason of going to South Sudan,” he said. 

He questioned why the refugees are moving up and down and yet the host communities are home and intact.

Meanwhile, Emmanuel Juma, the refugee’s welfare chairperson for zone five Bidibidi refugee settlements called for meeting with lower refugee council leaders from which he found out about the movement of the refugees, after which he contacted the office of the Resident District Commissioner of Yumbe.

Emmanuel added that, the RDC of Yumbe district assured him that the elections will be peaceful and further called for calmness within the refugee settlement against the movement of refugees in fear violence in the soon to be elections.

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