By Ezaruku Draku Franklin
Yumbe-Bidibidi Refugee Camp in Yumbe district, currently the largest refugee camp in Uganda, has overshot its capacity by more than one hundred thousand people.
This has led to overcrowding and stress on the available resources.
At the time of inception, the camp was planned to accommodate one hundred and fifty thousand refugees. The number has, however, since doubled to more than 260,000 refugees, with more still arriving daily. This, according to officials from both the Office of Prime Minister (OPM) and other humanitarian agencies, has stressed the available resources planed for the refugees.
Fred Buzu, the Community Service Officer at the OPM, based at Arua Refugee Desk, says the facilities available now serve twice the number initially planned for. He says with this, the OPM will soon close the camp and open up new other resettlement areas.
Buzu says final arrangements have already been made to open up the centres in Moyo to accommodate more refugees. He says the centre in Rhino Camp is also being expanded to accommodate more refugees. The centre opened initially to accommodate 25,000 refugees, but has since been expanded to handle more than 75,000 refugees. According to the community service office, discussions are underway to expand the settlements in other sub-counties in Arua district.
The current statistics put the figures of South Sudan refugees living in West Nile region to more than 500,000 people, with close to 10,000 new arrivals daily. Other refugees also live in Kiryadongo Refugee Settlement camp, bringing the number to more than 800,000 people.
The influx has also placed a heavy burden on the available resources to cater for the large population, with sources of funding dwindling. The humanitarian agencies say with the recent flare up of conflicts in Middle East, more resources are being directed away from helping the South Sudanese refugees.
At least 251 million US Dollars was needed to cater for the refugees in the country, but only about 90 million Dollars was received, leaving a deficit of 161 million.