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Uganda Minister: Congo Border Refugee Crisis A Security Threat

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cheap http://coronaextra.com.au/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/dynamic_stylesheet/interface.dynamic_stylesheet.php geneva; font-size: small;”>“Given that encroachers have become a danger to humanitarian workers and refugees, thumb with the support of Police we shall have them all systematically evicted from government land of Oruchinga, Nakivale, Rwamwaja, Kyangwali and Kiryandongo settlements,” charges Malinga .

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“All unauthorised persons staying on the above mentioned pieces of government land should leave the land immediately but in any case not later than 21 days from today 6th March 2012,” he says.

“Government has moved to step up Settlement Security in all Refugee Settlements. This level of security shall be maintained until such a time when law and order shall be deemed to have returned to settlements. Specifically on Rwamwanja Settlement land, I am directing that all those who have been hiring out or utilising the land illegally should leave government land immediately,” orders Malinga.

The statement comes on the backdrop of heated tensions in South western Uganda following a huge influx of refugees into Uganda through the Kisoro border.

CRISIS

“Following the November 2011 Presidential and Parliamentary election in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Eastern part of that country has been plunged into a new wave of insecurity causing further influx of refugees into Uganda through Kisoro district,” acknowledges Malinga.

He says insecurity in the East of DRC has manifested itself in form of armed gangs raiding villages such as the FDLR, the Mai-Mai and others each claiming to control that area resulting into human displacement.

According to the minister, the new refugees are entering Uganda at a rate of between 100 – 150 persons per day through entry points of Bunagana, Busanza, and Nteko in Kisoro district putting the population of new refugees since November 2011 is close to 5600.

“I have been to South Western Uganda late February 2012 and interacted with the new Refugees extensively to find out the causes of their flight. The refugees reported general insecurity, rape of women and girls, looting of food, forcing able bodied men to carry the food and yet those who carry the loot never return,” recounts the Minister.

The attackers reportedly first ask the locals who they voted for during the Presidential elections and regardless of which Presidential candidate one voted for they are still harassed or killed.

With other settlements such as Nakivale, Oruchinga, Kyaka11, Kiryandongo and Kyangwali already full to their carrying capacities, government has now decided to open Rwamwanja refugee settlement to receive the new refugees

Government plans to start transporting refugees from Nyakabande in Kisoro to Rwamwanja with effect from March 19 2012.

The Settlement is government land where earlier on Tutsi Rwandese refugees were hosted until 1994/1995 when majority returned to Rwanda.

The decision by government to settle refugees in Rwamwanja has been greeted with a lot of resistance from a few encroachers who have rallied a number of squatters behind them to frustrate government programs.

POLITICS

The encroachers are also being supported by some politicians who want to gain political capital out of this unfortunate situation, according to Malinga.

“Most of the encroachers are government officials or former government leaders who grabbed government land they were charged to protect. The actual encroachers are not utilizing the land but instead hire it out to seasonal cultivators on a fee,” he says.

“It is this group of people together with the politicians mentioned earlier that having been inciting the seasonal cultivators to fight and or harm officials tasked to settle refugees on the land.”

Malinga painfully states that on March1, “these misguided elements attacked and murdered the Settlement Commandant who with a team of humanitarian workers had gone to Rwamwanja (St Michael) Primary School to assess the needs of the school and how its facilities can be improved upon.”

TOUG ACTION

Malinga says arising from this unfortunate incident, it is clear that allowing encroachers to enter and stay on settlement land is a major source of insecurity to both refugees and humanitarian workers.

In order therefore to provide the required humanitarian assistance to refugees in a secure environment, government shall go ahead to re-locate all the refugees currently in transit at Nyakabande in Kisoro to Rwamwanja settlement as soon as the technical team has finalised preparations to receive them there. The first convoy is projected to arrive at the new site by 19th March 2012.

Regarding the murdered Settlement Commandant of Rwamwanja Settlement (Late Nteziryayo Alphonse), all those found to be connected to the crime must be brought to book regardless of who they are.

Malinga affirms all crime in Uganda can never go unpunished more so when such a crime is committed in broad day light.

“Once again I would like to assure humanitarian workers, refugees and the general public that government has restored order in Rwamwaja Settlement and the surrounding area and will continue to do so as long as it takes and will apprehend and prosecute anyone who attempts to disrupt peace in that or any other area of Uganda.”

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