ARUA. Internal affairs state minister Mr Mario Obiga Kania has warned that no land offered by the local communities to settle refugees must be gazetted by the government.
Mr Kania has also warned the office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and all aid agencies to treat the land Lords with the utter respect they deserve by responding to any requests they make to improve their livelihood.
“Do not allow any land in the settlements to be gazetted because you will eventually lose it. There is nothing that impedes the government from using the land in its current form” A tough talking Kania warned local leaders.
Kania appealed to the government to encourage other areas of Uganda to offer land for settling refugees so that they too can understand the scale of the problem of hosting refugees.
“Yes we have been praised for the generosity of offering land to host our brothers from other countries but I don’t want to take the pride alone, other areas should also offer land so that we share the pride” Mr Kania whose Terego east constituency is hosting refugees in Imvepi and Omugo settlements sarcastically said.
He was recently speaking to partners on the close to One Billions shillings development response to displacement impacts project (DRDIP) under the OPM.
Mr Genesis Acema, Arua district LCV vice chairman said services in the urban settings were increasingly getting strained due to “Urban refugees” who are not budgeted for in the towns. He added that most district roads had been destroyed by the heavy trucks plying the routes to the settlements.
Mrs Margaret Athieno, the assistant representative of the United Nations high commissioner for refugees speaking for the country representative said Uganda stands out in generosity and sincerity. She said UNHCR is shaping its emerging policies on experiences from Uganda.
Terego West Member of Parliament Mr Moses Angundru expressed disappointment with the government over inadequate services offered to host communities.
“The local people here have earned a good name in Geneva for the humility and open heart but the government should do the same” Angundru said.
Recently, Eng. Hillary Onek, the minister of disaster preparedness and refugees launched the DRDIP projects across the West Nile region in a bid to improve services for the host communities.
The government funded projects through a World Bank loan are expected to cover areas of environment, energy, agriculture and infrastructure among others.
During the launch Eng Hillary Onek, the minister of Relief, disaster preparedness and refugee said the presence of refugees had deprived the host communities of more than 30% of the services if they were not hosting refugees. He said he will push for the government through the Uganda National roads Authority (UNRA) to tarmac some of the major roads in the region.