KOBOKO. The European Union (EU) delegation to Uganda has lauded leaders of Koboko Municipal council for their resilience in hosting thousands of self-settled refugees in the town.

Mr Cedric Merel, the head of cooperation for the EU delegation made the remarks on behalf of the delegation during a stakeholders’ meeting at Koboko district hall over the weekend.

The meeting which was aimed at establishing the fate of the self-settled refugees in Koboko municipality was organized by ACAV, an Italian NGO operating in West Nile region.

During the meeting, Mr Merel said Koboko municipality contribution towards hosting the self-settled refugees amidst several challenges shows how compassionate the leaders and residents of the municipality are.

Mr Merel said they have come to gather more information regarding the self-settled refugees in the town so that they can present their findings to the EU headquarters for appropriate action.

He urged the local leaders to join hands with EU in trying to find out the best way of addressing issues affecting the municipality as a result of the refugees.

It is for this reason that the local leaders of Koboko municipality appealed to the EU delegation to consider assisting them in providing support for the self-settled refugees in the town.

Mr Stanslus Mangasa, the Koboko municipal council Town Clerk said the annual financial budgets are always affected due to lack of provisions to cater for the refugees.

Mr Mangasa said the majority of the self-settled refugees are women and children with 88.8% of them being South Sudanese while the remaining 11.2% are Congolese and Somalis refugees but all sharing the same resources with the nationals.

Mr Mangasa said despite the central government being aware of the situation, it has failed to recognize them as a refugee hosting municipality and this has been witnessed by the continuous low funding.

"The low funding has affected social services like health, water and education. As a result, people are overcrowding for services in all corners of the town,” said Mangasa.

Koboko Municipality Mayor, Mr Wilson Sanya added that there are so many cases of fighting between locals and refugees at water points just because of the limited number of boreholes to serve the community to their expectation.

"We don’t have support for service delivery to these refugees. We only depend on the budget we have for our people as the central government through the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) has failed to recognize that we have refugees, a decision that has left us as the only municipality hosting refugees without external support in West Nile," Sanya stressed.

Chairman of South Sudan - Uganda Refugees Association (SSURA) for West Nile region, Mr Peter Aringu Morrison noted that many refugees have opted to settle in urban centres because they want to escape tribal conflicts, seek better social services that he said are wanting in the camps and above all, look for jobs in towns for survival.

Currently, Koboko municipality is a home to about 6000 self-settled refugees and 65,236 locals living in the three Divisions of Koboko North, West and South.