West Nile MPs left stranded as Minister Kania blocks meeting on South Sudanese refugees
Arua-Over 10 Members of Parliament and 120 participants from West Nile today expressed shock at the decision by security personnel to block a regional stakeholders meeting on refugees at White Castle hotel.
Hundreds of lower local government representatives from the eight districts were equally left speechless after they were stopped from checking in the hotel where the three days’ workshop was set to be held.
The three days stakeholders’ meeting was convened by the West Nile Parliamentary Association to discuss stakeholder conflicts in management of refugee affairs in the region.
MP Hassan Kaps Fungaroo addressing the participants and a section of district leaders. Photo by Felix
However after the hotel management was instructed not to allow the meetings take place, the MPs and the regional participants convened in the hotel park yard before they were dispersed until further notice.
According to MP Fungaroo Kaps Hassan the chairperson West Nile regional task force for refugees and host community affairs, a message from MP Terego East and also minister of state for internal affairs was sent to the police to block the meeting.
According to the message, Kania claimed the meeting had no security clearance and the purpose was not known to government.
Minister Kania who blocked the meeting. Photo by Felix
West Nile districts of Arua, Yumbe, Koboko, Moyo and Adjumani are now hosting 500,000 South Sudanese who have continued to flee from fighting, hunger and broken health and education services.
Last week, Food and Agricultural Organization declared that about 5 million South Sudanese face food shortage. This meeting was to discuss hw the South Sudanese refugees could be helped by both host communities, leaders in government, NGOs and humanitarian agencies.
But several MPs condemned Kania’s action after arriving at the hotel only to find they wasted time and resources to travel for the meeting.
“There are dangers of land grabbing, the district local governments are getting sucked in to corruption, there are a lot of irregularities in managing affairs of refugees that need to be discussed,” said Fungaroo.
Margaret Baba Diri the woman MP Koboko described Kania’s action as a pity and an embarrassment to the people of West Nile.
She added that politicization of the meeting by some of their colleagues was uncalled for and vowed that they would go ahead to reschedule it.
Some of the refugees lining for food at Rhino Camp settlement in Arua. Photo by Aluma Aribo
Lee Oguzu the Mp for Maracha West said a lot of issues of land grabbing, unemployment, damage to environment among others were reaching unbelievable levels if not discussed.
“Uganda is being praised internationally for hosting refugees but we are bearing the burden due to undefined roles and responsibilities,” said Oguzu.
Acidri James the MP Maracha East warned that they will not allow institutions to sit on the locals because it’s the right of the host communities to demand for what is due to them through dialogue.
Etuka Isaac, the upper Madi MP had no kind words for minister Kania, said: “I am disappointed that our fellow MP from Terego has killed such an important meeting and if such act continues, we shall run mad,” Etuka warned.
Ogama Ismail, lower Madi MP vowed to ensure that the meeting is reconvened since there are burning issues as a result of the refugees that need to be discussed in an open forum.
Tom Azaa Alero, West Moyo MP castigated minister Kania for acting as if he is not a son of the soil and refusing to consult with his colleagues who came for the meeting.
Rose Atima Ayaka, woman MP Maracha regretted why she spent time traveling to attend the meeting that was brought to its knees at the last moment.
However in a telephone interview Minister Obiga Kania accepted issuing directives to stop the meeting saying it had no security clearance and argued that this should have not been organized by an opposition member of Parliament.
Hundreds of participants who were later dispersed back to their homes vowed to punish the minister at home for frustrating development efforts of the people who elected him to parliament.