Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | South Sudan refugees being hosted in refugee settlement centres in Northern Uganda district of Lamwo are being closely monitored by security personnel.
The Lamwo Resident District Commissioner Nabinson Kidega says that security personnel are in constant watch over some refugees to ensure they don’t engage in acts that compromise security within and outside the country.
His statement follows accusations from his counterparts in South Sudan who allege that refugee settlement centres in Uganda have become recuperation grounds for South Sudanese rebels who fled from Torit state.
Torit state borders Lamwo district in Uganda.
Torit state Governor Alberio Tobiolo Oromo recently accused the government for allegedly hosting rebels in refugee settlement centres and called for their repatriation to ensure they face justice.
Kidega acknowledges that some of the refugees were once part of the armed conflict back in their home country but notes that they have sought for asylum and are protected under the 2006 refugee act.
He however says despite them being asylum seekers now, security personnel haven’t folded their arms to monitor their conducts while in the country.
According to Kidega, such security monitoring has so far led to the arrest of six refugees who were found with guns.
He said in another operation, security personnel were able to arrest of some South Sudan refugees who had hidden guns in charcoal bags and attempting to cross Apiriti Border in Lokung sub county.
Kidega says they are handling the matter cautiously because of its sensitivity to security and international relations.
He says so far 14 guns have been retrieved from suspects who had sought for asylum in Uganda after crossing from South Sudan since September last year.
Julius Kamuza, the Palabek settlement commandant dismissed reports that they are hosting rebels saying the settlement centres are not training grounds for any military activities but hosting those who fled from conflicts.
He says calls for repatriation of some refugees alleged to have committed crimes in South Sudan can only be possible through diplomatic engagements between the two countries backed by proves.
“Uganda is not a training ground. In the Refugee settlements, we are not helping only South Sudan refugees, there are many refugees from different areas, why is it only South Sudan Authorities accusing us,”? Kamuza questioned.
He says due to the open door policies; the refugees have the freedom to move but notes that like any other individuals, they can be subjected to monitoring by sister security if found to be operating outside the laws.
Lamwo District currently hosts 51,280 South Sudan refugees in the three settlement centres of Palabek Kal, Palabek Ogili and Palabek Gem.
However porous border points backed by limited security personnel manning the more than 140-kilometre porous Uganda-South Sudan border has facilitated illegal entry and exit of militias in and out of Uganda.
In December last year, Ugandan security personnel arrested Grace Rom Okeny 23 alias “Wangaras Suspect” a south Sudanese national who had registered as a refugee in Lamwo District in possession of a gun.