Families in Bundibugyo district are struggling to cope with hosting Congolese refugees. Statistics by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) show that more than 50,000 refugees have refused to go to the transit camp and are living with host families.
Most of the host families are located at Nyahuka and Busaru, 5 kilometers from Kamango town, where fighting took place. Records at the office of the community development show that there are more than 700 refugees in Nyahuka town council who are living with their relatives and friends.
Other refugees are living in Busaru, Bumandi and Busulu. Gerald Bantata is hosting his brother Felix Kabeya, his wife and six children. Bantata says he has to spend more money to feed his family and that of his brother, which has stretched his budget. He says that since he is only engaged in cocoa growing, he is forced to buy food, which is quite expensive.
Bantanta says that he has tried in vain to convince his brother to go to the transit camp at Bubukwanga where there is free food or return home since fighting has stopped.
Felix Kabeya says he can’t live in the camp citing the harsh conditions. He also says that he prefers to stay with his brother because it will be easy for him to return home. Kabeya says that if he goes to the camp, he will be relocated to Kyangwali refugee Camp and yet he has to return home and tend his cocoa garden.
Francis Suza is living in Nyahuka town council with two relatives and their children who fled the war in Kamango town. He says that he is forced to take care of the children, when they fall ill since their parents don’t have the money. Suza, a local businessman says that he has so far spent more than 300,000 shillings to look after his friends. He says that he can’t wait for the fighting to stop so that they can return home.
Francis Muhindo, the Nyahuka Sub County Community Development Officer says some of the refugees living with friends often flock the sub county headquarters demanding for food but they are turned away and told to go to the camp, where there is free food.
Charles Bafaki, the senior settlement officer in the Office of the Prime Minister says government will not be responsible, should anything happen to the refugees not in the camp since they aren’t in their records.
Bafaki says that the OPM’s office with the help of the UNHCR plans to carry out a head count of the refugees to establish the exact number of refugees living with host families and convince them to either return home or be relocated to the camp, since there is adequate security, food and non food items.