KENYAN refugees in Uganda have run out of food and drugs, parliamentarians from areas hosting them have alerted.
“As they come they need services; good security, sanitation, food and drugs. But as we talk now we have run out of food at the district. It is important that somebody comes to our rescue,” MP William Oketcho, representing West Budama constituency in Tororo district at the border with Kenya, told a news conference in Kampala yesterday.
“The district has run out of food yet we are supposed to be planning for two months ahead since we are not sure the situation will have calmed down. Each refugee is entitled to breakfast, half a kilogram of beans and a kilogram of maize flour.
On average we are talking about 15 bags of maize flour and eight bags of beans a day,” Oketcho, who said he was in contact with all local authorities in his area, said.
He also blamed the delay in the distribution of food items on World Food Programme. Oketcho said a bureaucratic impasse had developed between the UN agency and the local district authorities over distribution of relief supplies, which he said had exacerbated the situation.
“WFP has the largest store in Tororo but they prefer to deal directly with the central government. This is costing us a lot because the refugees cannot access food in time. However, I have just talked with a senior district official, who told me they were still negotiating with the agency to reduce that bureaucracy,” the lawmaker said.
The MP also said that children in dire need of nutritious foods had not been catered for under the relief aid arrangement by both the Uganda government and humanitarian agencies.
But the State Minister for Disaster and Refugees, Musa Ecweru, dismissed the MPs’ assertions, saying they were out of touch with the situation on the ground. “Those MPs are not in touch with the district authorities. We have just distributed maize flour and beans to Malaba and Busia refugee centers.”
However, Oketcho said the supplies were insufficient to carter for all the refugees.
He said they had equally run out of drugs, and that boreholes at the schools hosting the refugees were now breaking down because of being overused.
Oketcho estimated about 2500 refugees to have fled Kenya into Tororo, which is one of the three districts in eastern Uganda that are hosting the refugees.
But last weekend the Kenyan press reported that some 5,400 Kenyans had sought refuge in Uganda following the upsurge of violence in the western parts of the country.
The refugees, according to the area MPs, are presently staying at schools and churches.
A United Nations High Commission for Refugees spokesman, Emmanuel Nyabera, said the condition of the Kenyans was unknown and that an advance inter-agency mission had been sent to the area to monitor the situation.