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Gov’t strengthens community policing among South Sudan refugees, host communities

Refugees in a Ugandan camp

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Officials from office of the Prime Minister have intensified community policing and dialogue among South Sudan refugees and the host community in Adjumani district to promote harmonious relationship.

This follows recent clashes that erupted among the refugees and host communities in Nyumanzi refugee settlement in Dzaipi sub county leaving four people dead and 12 with injuries. Out of the four killed, two were Ugandans and two South Sudan refugees.

The fight according to security sources erupted after the sudden death of a Ugandan national whom locals in the host community believe was killed by refugees.

Over 2,000 locals from the host community were displaced to Dzaipi sub county headquarters in the revenge attack waged by the refugees.

Titus Jogo, the refugee desk officer in Office of the Prime Minister in Adjumani says community engagement aimed at bringing peaceful coexistence between the host and refugees has been improved since the clashes.

He noted that OPM has also gone ahead to bring on board cultural and local leaders from the two sides to amicably dialogue to ensure sustained relationships among them.

According to Jogo, the fights came as a surprise, nearly five years since establishment of the settlement centre in 2014 where no traces of division or hate had been registered.

“We have intensified community policing, dialogue and involved cultural leaders including even LCI’s from all the sides to ensure no repeat of what happened. The engagements we are having is also to help us understand what we didn’t do better that led to such fights and what we can do to mitigate it,” Jogo told URN in an interview.

Jogo says that calm has already returned in the area adding that the market has opened and some of the host community members who were displaced are slowly returning home.

He, however, says OPM is working towards giving out food items and carry out counselling among the affected from both sides who sustained injuries and lost properties in the clashes.

Peter Data Taban, the Adjumani Resident District Commissioner says although calm has returned, his office together with OPM is engaged in conducting community dialogue aimed at bridging differences between the two communities.

He notes that investigation carried out revealed the person who was alleged to have been killed by a refugee thereby sparking off violent clashes was epileptic and died due to the ailment.

“Our engagement has helped to identify what went wrong, even the host community who had alleged their loved one was killed have realized that what they did was not right because the person died due to ailment he was suffering from.”

Taban, however, says minimal presence of security forces are still on the ground within and around the settlement to ensure peace.

In a statement on December 13, UNHCR says it was working with OPM to continue monitoring the situation adding that they are in regular communication with representatives of the refugee community and local leaders to advocate for peaceful coexistence.

Adjumani district hosts a total of 209,545 South Sudan refugees who fled civil unrest from South Sudan.

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