ARUA. Arua district chairman Mr Sam Wadri Nyakua has cautioned the United Nations agencies and all partners dealing in humanitarian work for the refugees against what he termed as ‘refugee politics’.
Nyakua recalled that refugee life regardless of any help is not ‘palatable’ and that all people should work towards ensuring comfort and a better life for the displaced through justice and sustainable economic empowerment.
“Forced displacement is a reality we must accept and we must garner our efforts to securing the humanitarian and development needs not only by the government but by different actors across the board”, Nyakua said.
He was officiating at the launch of a report on rule of law, access to justice and security needs in refugee settlements and host communities of Arua and Isingiro districts at the White Castle hotel on Tuesday.
The research was conducted by the legal and service delivery network (LASPANET), an association of 54 organizations in 70 districts in the country, licensed to carry legal aid services by Uganda law council.
It was commissioned by the United Nations development program (UNDP) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
“It’s our desire that the report informs policy and practice change that is right and responsive to this section of our society. It is envisaged that if the recommendations of this report are affected by different duty bearers, there will be general access to the rule of law”, Said Ms Silvia Mukasa, the executive director of LASPANET.
She said the report that was launched by ministers Kahinda Otafire of justice and constitutional affairs and Mr Hillary Onek of disaster preparedness and relief earlier in the year had to be taken to the grassroots for the people of the respective districts to feel, appreciate and also contribute their ideas.
Mr Francis Odongyoo, a LASPNET member of the board of director’s representing the Northern region said the report will help to inform and complement the efforts by government and development partners in ensuring rule of law, access to justice of refugees and host communities.
The report outlines some of the key challenges still being faced in the settlements as an inadequate human resource that compromises performance, questionable integrity and quality of service delivered by the Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS) institutions.
It, for instance, indicated a ratio of one policeman serving 2780 people in Isingiro district far beyond the recommended international standards of one to 450 people.
The shortage of policewomen in both Arua and Isingiro and yet victims especially of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) prefer to report their cases to female officers was another big challenge outlined in the report. Others included high costs of justice, language barriers and long distance of institutions.
The same report recommended increased training for police and judicial officers, the establishment of mobile courts, increase in translation services and a legal awareness program for both refugees and host communities in the short run.
Mr Bernard Atiku, the Member of Parliament of Ayivu County, however, turned heads when he said some of the foreign donors were holding back their money due to corruption in the office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and urged the government to take urgent steps to weed out the practice.
He said the German government had held back 400 billion that was expected to be used to undertake some of the key road projects in the region.
Atiku outlined the affected roads as Koboko, Yumbe, Moyo; Arua, Terego to Yumbe and Wandi to Rhino camp; roads linking to most of the settlements in the region.