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PM Rugunda, WFP top officials to meet over Bidibidi riots as army intensifies control of camp area

Prime minister and top officials from world food programme to hold a crisis management meeting over Bidi Bidi riots. (FILE PHOTO)

YUMBE – The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) led by premiere Ruhakana Rugunda and Partners working in the refugee response unit will meet next week over the refugee food strike at Bidibidi camp.

South Sudanese refugees at Bidibidi settlement in Yumbe staged a violent strike on Sunday over the long distance they needed to go to get their food rations and the merger of other nearby existing serving points.

Refugees claim some of them have to walk up to 6 kilometers for food following the new changes.

State Minister for relief and Disaster Preparedness Musa Ecweru has said the new food distribution mechanism employed by partners was very unfair to refugees.

The strike by the refugees led to the destruction of property including vehicles and other office equipment.

Ecweru says they will meet next week together with partners including World Food Program (WFP) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to find out exactly what happened in regards to this decision making process for food distribution. The State Minister questions why such a critical decision was made by a partner but not involving the Government.

According to Ecweru, the unilateral decision to rearrange the serving point was unfair to refugees, especially children, the elderly, the disabled and expectant mothers who cannot walk for long.

He says WFP did not provide answers that led to the strike. He says this new policy was supposed to be discussed with the Government and failure to do so was a big error on their side.

He says although Government does not tolerate strikes when it comes to humanitarian assistance, refugees also have rights and these should be considered by the development partners.

More than 300 UPDF and police officers have maintained presence in the camp to avert any chaos. Food distribution will resume on Wednesday at the initial points.

Bidibidi settlement hosts over 270,000 South Sudanese refugees. Uganda hosts 1.1 million refugees from the Great lakes region, majority of them being from South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

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