- The refugees say the closure will become costly in terms of transport and the vulnerable people would miss out
- The camp leaders say they were not consulted about the closure of the distribution point
- The food distribution point three (FDP3) was located in cluster one in village eight which used to serve the villages of 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11
By Elema Robert
Yumbe- Some of the South Sudan refuges in zone one in Bidi-bidi refugee settlement in Yumbe district took to the streets to express their dissatisfaction over the closure of one of the food distribution centres in the settlement.
Over 200 refugees stormed the offices of the OPM at the base camp with placards and plant leaves to handover their memorandum of understanding protesting against the newly created centre saying it’s too far from where they reside.
The food distribution point three (FDP3) was located in cluster one in village eight which used to serve the villages of 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11 but according to the new method of food distribution, world food programme (WFP) has shifted this food distribution point to FDP2 near the reception centre which about 3km from the former distribution point.
Jimmy Kenyi one of the local council officials of village eight said the distance is too far and inaccessible by some of the refugees.
He said it is unfair for world food programme (WFP) to take such decisions because it’s very hard for the refugees to get money to hire motorcycles to transport their food from the far distances.
“We want as the leaders maintain our former distribution centre because it is what we normally use for meetings, community dialogues, trainings and other gatherings. If we are to get our food ratio at the new centre, it will be costly because the boda-bodas would charge us heavily in transporting food which other refugees can’t afford to pay.”
He added: “Combining the villages in cluster one with those in cluster two is a wrong idea and we want OPM and WFP to reverse their decision. We took peaceful ways and legal steps to present our issues but if they don’t understand it, we shall try other ways to express our views”.
Mr Benon Kwizera the acting settlement commandant for Bidibidi refugee settlement said the refugee’s complaint indicated in the memo about the distance to access food is a genuine reason for which they need to be helped.
Some of the refugees receiving food at a distribution point. Photo by Steven
“What the refugees have come up with is a genuine concern and the concerned partner should look into it and see how they can help the refugees. The closure of this food distribution point was done in error because during our assessment, what we recommended was different from what has been done,” he said.
Mr Fedensious Inziku the officer in charge of Bidibidi Police post said: “I was not aware of the demonstration but the incident got me in the offices of the OPM. I saw the refugees coming with placards and plant leaves towards the OPM offices in a peaceful way who were guided by their leaders like the RWC 1, RWC 2 and RWC 3 where they presented their issue to the settlement commandant.
He said according to the law, a group who wants to organise a demonstration is supposed to seek for permission from the police first but the action of the refugees was not an organised demonstration but they just came to seek for clarification on where they are going to receive their December food ratio from which is due this week.
“The refugees didn’t do any destruction and when they reached the OPM offices, their issue was addressed and they moved back peacefully though WFP was resisting the OPMs stand on the matter,” he said.