Bidibidi: refugees beat aid workers, smash cars in food riot  

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Refugees burnt flammables

South Sudan refugees living in Yumbe district in Northern Region, Uganda on Sunday staged a riot protesting low food rations.

The incident took place at Bidibidi Refugee Settlement, a refugee camp with over 270,000 South Sudanese refugees fleeing the civil war.

According to the report, the refugees went on rampage and looted food stores, decrying scarcity of relief.

They reportedly assaulted United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR] aid workers and destroyed the organisation’s vehicles in a massive attack.

Security responded by heavily deploying UPDF soldiers and Police officers to end the riots stemming from the merger of food distribution points.

Refugees rioting

The UN Refugee Agency has not yet spoken on the matter to give the extent of the damage and how the matter will be resolved.

Police spokesperson, Emilian Kayima, was not readily available for a comment.

West Nile region police spokesperson, SP Josephine Anguncia, confirmed the development to edge.ug but explained that she had not yet been briefed on the details.

Angucia is expecting a brief from the area District Police Commander [DPC] who she said was right in the middle of the operation.

Bidibidi refugee settlement camp in Yumbe district which sits on 88.8 square miles was as of early 2017 the largest refugee settlement in the world.

As of 2018, that distinction was claimed by Kutapalong refugee camp for displaced Rohingya in Bangladesh.

Ugandan siphoned refugee funds

In November 2018, an internal audit revealed that UN’s refugee agency wasted tens of millions of dollars in Uganda in 2017, overpaying for goods and services, awarding major contracts improperly, and failing to avoid fraud, corruption, and waste, according to a damning internal probe.

The audit, by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services, found multiple areas of mismanagement that were UNHCR’s responsibility, such as a $7.9 million contract for road repairs awarded to a contractor with no experience in road construction, and questionable payments to trucking and bus companies worth $7.7 million.

It noted “pervasive non-compliance” with regulations on “vast sums” spent on water trucking and that UNHCR paid at least $10 million more VAT than it needed to.

Tens of millions of transport-related invoices are still being disputed with contractors.

The audit also found stockpiled goods, more lying idle than had been distributed in the previous 12 months, including 288,000 blankets and 50,000 wheelbarrows.

In addition, 15,000 solar lamps worth $279,860 were found to have gone missing, and no proper investigation was done.

Bidibidi camp

On December 18, 2018, UNHCR and partners launched an appeal for US$2.7 billion for 2019 and 2020 to address the life-saving humanitarian needs of South Sudanese refugees.

Five years on since the civil war started, over 2.2 million South Sudanese refugees have sought safety in six neighbouring countries: Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic (CAR). Another 1.9 million are internally displaced inside South Sudan.

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