MOYO. The first deputy Prime Minister, Gen. Moses Ali has urged refugee implementing partners in West Nile region to consider conserving the environment as part of their programs in refugee hosting districts.

Ali made the appeal in Moyo town on Friday after receiving several complaints from members of the public about the level of destruction caused on the environment since the coming of South Sudan refugees in the region.

It is for this reason that Ali called upon the United Nations (UN) and its implementing agencies to consider restoring the environment especially in refugee settlement camps.

Gen. Ali noted that refugees have exerted pressure on the environment by cutting down trees for energy, construction and other purposes thus affecting the climate of the region.

He added that the level of destruction of the environment in West Nile has doubled in the last two years due to the presence of refugees.

Ali appealed to UN and the various refugee agencies in the region to design projects geared towards the rehabilitation of the environment before the situation goes out of hand.

But Mr. Titus Jogo, the refugee desk officer in the office of the Prime Minister (OPM) for Moyo and Adjumani districts argued that the destruction of the environment in refugee hosting districts shouldn’t only be blamed on refugees but also the host communities who might have participated in the act even before the coming of the asylum seekers.

He, however, promised that a number of measures like tree planting and other activities aimed at protecting the environment have been rolled out to both refugees and the host population to ensure that the environment is restored.

During his recent visit to Palorinya refugee settlement camp in Moyo district, Mr. Joel Boutros, the UNHCR country representative to Uganda emphasized the need to protect the environment where refugees have been settled.

He said the debate on the issue of environment is ongoing and that it focuses on planting fruit trees to encourage communities to appreciate the value of trees in our day to day lives.

A total of 165,000 refugees have been settled in Moyo district compared to 136,000 population of the national, all exerting pressure on the environment.