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West Nile MPs want borders opened for refugees

A number of refugees continue to use the porous borders to enter into Uganda from West Nile and parts of Northern Uganda. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A section of Members of Parliament from the West Nile region want the government to allow in refugees from neighbouring countries despite the COVID-19 lockdown. The MPs say that the uncontrolled movement of refugees is likely to have an even greater risk for the country.

Uganda stopped refugee arrivals in March 2020, in a bid to control the spread of COVID-19. At the time, the country was hosting 1.4 million refugees mainly from neighbouring South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, reports indicate that a number of refugees continue to use the porous borders to enter into Uganda from West Nile and parts of Northern Uganda.

But Yumbe Woman MP Driwaru Zaitun says that with continued fighting and skyrocketing COVID-19 cases in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the illegal entry of refugees is a time bomb for Uganda since many of them have found their way into the communities without being tested for COVID-19.

South Sudan has seen a rapid increase in COVID-19 with more than 1,600 COVID-19 cases recorded since April when the first case was announced while records from DRC indicate 4,106 cases. MP Driwaru called on the government to open up borders to refugees and have a formal way of testing and integrating refugees.

Obongi County MP Kaps Hassan Fungaroo says that like truck drivers come in officially, refugees running away from war should be allowed to come in through official channels in order to prevent a disaster.

Mark Dulu Angel, the Adjumani East MP says that although there is a problem of refugees, the safety of Ugandans is paramount.

State Minister for Disaster Preparedness Musa Ecweru says that the border is closed and more efforts should be put on managing the porous borders to ensure that no one enters illegally.

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