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Refugees in Bweyale complain about the quality food aid

Bonifacio Taban
Refugees sheltering in the Bweyale refugee settlement in northern Uganda complain about the quantity and quality of food aid provided.
1.07.2016  |  Bweyale, Uganda
South Sudanese women carry water near the Bweyale refugee settlement in Uganda, March 4, 2016. (photo: The Niles | Bonifacio Taban)
South Sudanese women carry water near the Bweyale refugee settlement in Uganda, March 4, 2016. (photo: The Niles | Bonifacio Taban)

The Bweyale settlement hosts over 50,000 refugees, the majority of people fled the over two and a half year violent conflict in South Sudan. Nyagoa Chuol, a South Sudanese mother of four children living in the camp, says her children have stomach pain after every meal prepared with the food aid provided by humanitarian agencies. “Our children dislike the food,” she says.

Our children dislike the food.

Chuol Puot, a 25-year-old refugee from South Sudan residing in the Bweyale camp already for two and half years, says life in the camp is not good. He says the food they eat almost every day makes them loose their appetite and children often get a “running stomach”. “For the last two weeks we were on strike about the food given to us”, he says, adding that they asked organisations “to bring us maize or sorghum grains, which is our main food we eat, while in South Sudan and Sudan”.

The Deputy Chairman of South Sudanese refugees living in the settlement, Malow Riak, also says the food is of poor quality, especially in terms of nutrition. “The food they are getting is so called ‘Ariygo’. The food is there monthly but it is of the type they [refugees] cannot eat,” he says.

According to Riak the authorities concerned in the Office of the Prime Minister, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the World Food Program (WFP) promised to provide alternative food aid. However, Riak says it takes to long, adding that the authorities don’t do enough to make their promise come true. “Up to now the situation is worsening,” he says.

Puot not only accuses aid agencies operating in the settlement of failing to provide adequate food to the refugees. He says lacking health services add to the challenges faced by the displaced people living in the settlement.

Many life-saving services are threatened.

Uganda has seen a sharp increase in refugee arrivals from South Sudan since January, sometimes as many as 800 individuals per day. UNHCR already said in April that the organisation is nearing capacity and basic life-saving services and other services are severely stretched, caused by a combination of new fighting in previously peaceful areas, food insecurity and severe humanitarian funding shortages.

“With the Regional Refugee Response Plan funded at just eight percent, many life-saving services are threatened and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is extremely concerned,” spokesperson Ariane Rummery told a news briefing in Geneva already on April 19, 2016.

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