The number of beggars in Arua town is on the increase.
Early every morning numerous beggars line the streets of the town to cajole and plead with passersby to spare them a few shillings. They say they need the money for a simple meal, for their baby's clothes, for medicine and even for transport back to the village.
On Inzikuru Street, which is the entrance to the main market in Arua as well as to the municipal council offices, five beggars have set up semi-permanent residence. One of them, Anna Onziru, says she is a widow and mother of five. She says she was forced to beg for survival because she has no where else to turn.
Onziru says her husband who died last year left her some property. However the house and the land were grabbed by her husband's relatives and she was left homeless and penniless.
Antonio Drileyo, a beggar who sits at the Arua Hospital gate, says he cannot work to earn a living because he was disabled by leprosy. His fingers and toes were dismembered by the debilitating disease and he says he has not family to help him.
Drileyo says he has spent the last ten years of his life living on the streets of Arua town. He says he uses the little money he gets to buy basic provisions like food and soap.
Despite these stories, not everyone is sympathetic to the plight of the beggars.
Patrick Drasimaku says many of the beggars are merely conmen out to make a quick buck. He claims that he has been conned by a woman whose begs for money under the pretext of needing it to bury a dead child.
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Charles Asiki, the Mayor of Arua, says many impoverished people are attracted to the town in the hope of employment. He says the number of beggars has increased because of widespread crop failure in the West Nile and rising hunger, but insists they would be better off back home.
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Asiki says he was conned last week when a man came to his office pleading for money to buy treatment for his child who was admitted in hospital. He says he was surprised when he met the same man buying drinks for himself in a bar later that day.
The Arua District Police Commander, Julius Salube, says people with genuine complaints about the beggars should report the cases to the police.