Arua, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Arua City council will carry out a census on the burden of self-settled urban refugees in a bid to improve service delivery. The exercise which will start next month will cover both Arua central division and Ayivu division where most of the refugees reside.
The census that will be carried out by VNG, an international cooperation agency of the association of Netherlands’ municipalities operating in West Nile follows concerns from the local leaders over the increasing burden posed by urban refugees on service delivery.
Fred Bada, the Local Government Engagement Expert at VNG International explains that the overall objective of the census is to guide planning in the city. According to Bada, the city council has been providing services to the self-settled refugees without any plan which has since compromised effective service delivery for the locals.
Zubeda Shida Olekua, the Deputy Central Division Town Clerk, says that the presence of self-settled refugees in the city has greatly strained the meagre resources allocated to them by the central government.
The self-settled urban refugees are in the areas of Oli, in Central division while others are settled in Ediofe, Adalafu, Onzivu, Mvara, and Oluko areas in Ayivu division, Arua city.
In 2019, a survey carried out by Cities Alliance and AVSI Foundation indicated that 7,015 urban refugees out of a population of 67,810 who stated their nationality and disclosed their migrant status were living in Arua Central Division.
Gabriel Batali, the program coordinator of the South Sudanese Refugees Association in Arua City, noted that the initiative is timely especially when there has not been clear data on the number of refugees living in Ayivu Division.
In October last year, a case analysis report by the Norwegian Refugee Council revealed that nearly haft of the refugees settled in Arua city came for health reasons, while others migrated for education reasons among other motivations.
Currently, the policy framework that governs refugee management does not recognize refugees in secondary cities and other urban centers apart from Kampala Capital City.