By Sabir Musa firstname.lastname@example.org
Some community members in Rigbo Sub County, Madi-Okollo District have given Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) 21 days to address their demands as the landlords for offering land to host refugees under Rhino camp Refugee settlement.
Through their umbrella, Oluba Community Development Association, the members are demanding for compensation and agreement as they accuse OPM for allegedly occupying the land to settle refugees since 2013.
The land in question according this group include areas of Ocea, Yoro, Odobu, Eden, Wanyange A and B among others that forms Rhino camp Refugee Settlement.
The association’s Vice Chairperson, Faruk Andati express disappointment over what he describes as illegal settlement of refugees by Office of the Prime Minister without any agreement with the landlords.
“This is criminal, OPM is impersonating as landlord to the refugees. Again, between 2013 and 2015 when the current refugees were brought, OPM didn’t even ask permission from us as landlords” he say.
Faruk notes that although the then Prime Minister Adyego asked elders for land to host refugees in 1994, this never happened again in 2013 when refugees were brought for the second time.
Rhino camp refugee settlement was opened in 1980 and expanded in the wake of the South Sudanese civil war to host the influx of refugees in to Northern Uganda.
The zones in this settlement spread from Madi-Okollo to Terego district due to extension as a result of increased refugee population.
The Secretary Oluba Community, Hassan Hussein Ariaka challenge OPM to explain on the demands by elders in the community.
He says, a number of demands were listed to OPM but many of these are not fulfilled. These among others include employment opportunity for the locals, scholarships and support to the elders in the community who offered land.
“OPM should mention to us the elders they have supported to that effect” he questions.
However, the Deputy Refugee Desk Officer in Office of the Prime Minister, Jenna Atoma explains that, the community is always engaged before giving land to host refugees.
Atoma acknowledges that the right to use agreement for this land was not signed but calls for calm as they plan joint meetings with different stakeholders to address the matter.
“The unfortunate thing is since we started engaging with these landlords, our hope is that we would have required a right of use agreement for this land well aware that this land does not belong to us, OPM is not a landlord anywhere, this land belong to the community” DRDO clarifies.
According to UNHCR, the settlement had 123,243 registered refugees as of January 2018, mostly South Sudanese.