- There is massive environmental destruction as the Eucalyptus trees in the district are cut for poles for construction of houses and other natural trees for firewood
- The trees that are cut are never replaced after they are transported in Lorries to the neighboring camps like Imvepi and Omugo settlements
- A basin of cassava which used to cost Shs 15,000 is now over Shs 20,000
- Many of the refugees are hosted in the West Nile Sub-region
By Atiku Robert
Maracha- The district leaders are demanding for compensation from the government and UNHCR for refugee spillover effects.
The leaders say the office of the Prime minister and other refugee implementing agencies should compensate Maracha district because the refugees indirectly get services from the district.
These concerns were raised to the State Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Mr Moses Kizige, when he visited the district yesterday. Mr Lawrence Adiga Maracha district chairman said: “Maracha district is surrounded by refugees from Koboko, Arua, Yumbe and we are suffering from spillover effects. There is also environmental degradation as most of the poles used for construction of houses in the refugee camps are got from here.”
Maracha is not a refugee hosting district but it is surrounded by three districts that host them (refugees). Ms Judith Bako the district female youth Councillor and also Secretary for social services says the district deserves to get compensation through a UNHCR Re-hope programme.
“We are indirectly feeling the effect of refugee influx in the region. Our food and trees leave the district to aid the refugees, yet we are not benefitting. We have raised this concern whenever we are for regional meetings with the refugee implementing agencies but nothing fruitful has come out of it.”
Mr Moses Kizige the State Minister for Karamoja affairs says the refugees can also be a source of economic growth for the region. He promised to raise the issue with the office of the Prime minister.
“The Chairman has complained that a basin of cassava here now costs Shs 20, 000. That can be problem if you don’t have the cassava to sell. But if you produce a lot of cassava you just pray that there is insecurity in Sudan and the refugees come and buy your cassava. What’s wrong with that? And you know very well that they (refugees) will buy the wood (poles) to put up their structures, so you plant more trees.” the Minister said.
Due to population pressure and land shortage in Maracha district, production quantities within the district remain wanting. Uganda is currently ranked as the second largest refugee hosting country in the world.