By Jurugo Emmanuel Ogasto
South Sudanese refugees at Palorinya settlement in Obongi district have expressed their anxiety as the host community depriving them from the access to some basic resources for their daily livelihood enhancement.
Speaking during the meeting for the dialogue to build peaceful co-existence among the refugees and the host community held in Moyo district headquarters yesterday, Sula Godi Charles, the Refugee Welfare Councilor accused the host community of mistreating and harassing their wives whenever the women go to collect fire woods.
“Our wives are insulted and they end up leaving what they have gone for,” he said.
Godi further accused the host community of harassing refugees whenever they go for fishing in river Nile and that,the host community has gazetted a zone in the river where they were allowed to catch fish.
Madrara John Valerano Eberuku, another refugee complained that, whenever they requested the host communities to help them with some portions of land to cultivate food crops to supplement what the World Food Program gives them, they always received negative responses that made them feel unwanted.
“They look at us like foreigners who can’t help themselves,’’ she said.
The refugees however did not mention any good things that they shared in common with the host communities.
But Jesca Dradrio, a member of the host community appreciated the presence of the refugees as they noted that their existence in the area has brought some developments that included improved social services which comprised health services and education, rehabilitation of feeder roads, construction of water sources and many other household development projects.
“Honestly these refugees have brought development in this district,’’ she said.
Dradrio however challenged Office of the Prime Minister to regulate the rampant deforestation caused by the refugees and theft of properties by the refugees that were contributing to misunderstanding between the host community and the refugees.
To address the challenges and misunderstandings between the refugees and the host community and create peaceful co-existence as well, Mawa Bashir, a retired Civil Servant, now the Minister of Security in Rendike Chiefdom called for dialogue meetings between the two communities whom he said were people of the same origin.
Meanwhile the deputy settlement commandant of Palorinya refugee settlement, Alfred Adia observed that the misunderstanding between the refugees and the host community was as a result of pressure exerted on the available natural resources by the refugees who were the majority of the population in Obongi district.
Adia promised to engage the two communities in dialogue for harmonious co-existence.
The dialogue meeting was organized by Cross Border Network and organization of selected media houses in Uganda and South Sudan with funding from DW Academie-Bonn Germany.
Sheila Mysorekar, the project manager at DW Académie, commended the stakeholders of the dialogue meeting for their participation and coming out with the issues and the recommendations.
Mysorekar pledged the continuation for the support of her organization so that the dialogue meetings proceed to achieve the desired peaceful co-existence among refugees and the host community.