- The registration officers are to be stationed at specific places and refugees have to either walk or ride long distances in the vast Bidibidi settlement to get registered
- Bidibidi refugee settlement has 270, 0000 refugees as per the earlier registration and some cases of family reunion and new births have been registered in the settlement
- Those who fail to register during the verification, will have their names deleted and not planned for by OPM/UNHCR
By Elema Robert
Yumbe- The verification exercise that kicked off on Wednesday at Bidibidi settlement is hectic especially for children and the elderly, a section of the refugees have said.
The exercise involves transportation of the refugees from a zone to the registration center, making it difficult for the elderly and children to be commuting the long distance.
Elias Wudango, the Chairperson in Zone One, said: “It is a way of exploiting the refugees because the biometric exercise was done six months ago. We don’t know what OPM did with the number of the refugees. Some of the children are in school in far places like Arua, Kampala and it will be hard to get transport to and from.”
The registration exercise at the onset of the insurgency in South Sudan that drove them to the camps in Uganda were also marred by irregularities. Samuel Wani the refugee welfare council chairperson for block 10 said they welcome the verification exercise but what happened in the previous biometric registration exercise should not be repeated.
The settlement commandant in Office of Prime Minister, Robert Baryamwesiga, said verification is a normal exercise which is done after every two years but for this general one, there has been a concern on the numbers of refugees in the settlement.
“The international community and the donors requested the government to do verification to find out whether the refugees are still available. We want to find out the actual number of refugees in the settlement because there are those who might have repatriated themselves, those who have reunited themselves with their families including the newly born babies, so we shall handle all those to add the number not registered in the settlement,” he said.
He said the exercise started with sensitization of the refugees in Bidibidi settlement and urged all the refugees under Bidibidi to ensure that they are present because if they miss the exercise they will not be planned for.