Part of Bubukwanga Prisons land in Bundibugyo district has been given out to accommodate the increasing number of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
For two weeks, the refugees have been camped at the Bubukwanga Sub County headquarters, five kilometers from Bundibugyo town. However, as their numbers continue to increase, the government has been forced to use part of the prisons land to accommodate them.
On Friday, Uganda Peoples’ Defence Force (UPDF) soldiers and workers from several humanitarian agencies were putting up makeshift structures on the five acres of the prison land, just 300 meters from the Bubukwanga transit camp.
Charles Bafaki, the Senior Settlement Officer in the Office of the Prime Minister, told local media that they were forced to construct more structures because the transit camp can’t accommodate more refugees. He also says the new structures will be occupied by the refugees who continue to enter the district and those who failed to get accommodated in the transit camp.
According to Bafaki, there are currently 17,650 refugees in the transit camp, but they expect the number to increase in the coming days.
Bafaki also says since they expect more refugees in the district, more than 53 tons of food and non food items like clothes have been put aside to cater for the new refugees.
Uganda Radio Network couldn’t get a comment from the Officer in-charge Bubukwanga Prisons, Anthony Opio, who was reportedly attending a meeting with officials from the Prime Minister’s office over the matter.
The occupied land was being used by the prisons to plant maize on a commercial scale, which eases feeding of the prisoners.
Despite the high number of refugees, those in the transit camp can now afford to have three meals a day, unlike in the past weeks when they were having only one or two meals a day. Steven Kamara, the camp commandant, says more than 45 tons of food was on Wednesday delivered to the camp.
Kamara however says some of the challenges being faced include refugees moving freely out of the camp to Bubukwanga trading centre and Bundibugyo town. He says the settlement department has few workers deployed at the camp to monitor the movement of the refugees.
Humanitarian agencies say up to 60,000 people have come to Bundibugyo after fleeing fighting between the DRC government forces and rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).