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Police brokers peace talks between refugees and host communities after deadly attacks

Refugees and the host community in Madi Okollo attending a meeting. Courtesy photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Police leaders in the West Nile have embarked on series of reconciliation and security meetings at Rhino camp in Madi Okollo district in a bid prevent potential future revenge attacks between South Sudanese refugees and host communities.

A violent revenge attack left 10 South Sudanese refugees dead two weeks ago. The deaths were recorded in a revenge attack by host communities after a South Sudan national attacked and assaulted a boy from the host community who was grazing.

Early this week, SSP Richard Okullu, the West Nile Police Commander led a team of senior police officers including the Field Force Unit zonal commander to a reconciliation and security meeting at O`dobu 1 cluster some meters away from Tika 4 block A, all in Rhino refugee settlement camp.

Okullu says they had received intelligence information of a planned revenge attack by refugees on the host communities, a reason that informed the reconciliation meeting. He says the police are going to traverse all the clusters in the refugee camp to sensitize the masses about the dangers of such attacks on their lives and livelihoods.

Okullu does not rule out future attacks but says they must not be treated as community attacks but rather individual ones to avoid more attacks.

Swadik Dratele, the LCI chairperson of Balala village, O’dobu Parish, Rigbo sub-county, Madi Okollo district says the clashes escalated as a result of some people who spread rumours inciting people especially in the host communities to attack.

According to Dratele, some landlords are also bitter with the government for not responding to their request of constructing for them houses after they surrendered chunks of their land for the refugee camp.

According to UNHCR, Rhino camp is Uganda’s fourth largest refugee settlement area with a population of more than 100,000 South Sudanese refugees who were displaced by the 2013 and 2016 civil wars.

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