15,000 South Sudanese Refugees Missing In Adjumani - New Report

2010 Views Kitgum, Uganda

In short
At least 15,000 registered South Sudanese refugees have gone missing from refugee camps in Adjumani district.

At least 15,000 registered South Sudanese refugees have gone missing from refugee camps in Adjumani district.
Officials from the Office of the Prime Minister in the district revealed this to a team of Refugee Law Project investigators last month.

Refugee Law Project however says the whereabouts or fate of the refugees is unknown since they disappeared.
"There has been no registered case of voluntary repatriation, but there have been cases of spontaneous return and self-relocation" Refugee Law Project says in a report released to its patterns yesterday.

It states that the missing refugees could have "self-repatriated themselves into South Sudan or relocated to new undeclared destinations in Uganda in search of better livelihoods".
The report titled "Rapid Assessment of South Sudanese Refugee Influx into Northern Uganda" fears that hardships and limited access to basic services in the resettlement camps could have forced the missing refugees to return to South Sudan to take part in the ongoing conflict in their country.
The report was compiled by a team of eleven Refugee Law Project investigators sent out between February 17 and 21, 2015. It found that there is limited access to basic services including education, health care, adequate food, cooking utensils and beddings among others.
The report states that an acute gap in provision of Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) is limiting the possibilities of integration of refugees in host communities.

"Nearly all youth are out of school with only 2 percent of the estimated 16,000 youth accessing secondary education" it stressed.

Investigations also found that memories of violence, loss of loved ones and properties; and the growing needs to find a substitute bread winner for the family are pushing many women to assume roles of family heads or engage in extra marital sex to raise money.
Meanwhile the report says Adjumani district is hosting about 97,010 refugees in fourteen (14) settlements in the Northern Uganda district.

Uganda currently hosts about I60, 000 registered South Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers, of which the biggest number of 97,095 refugees, are in Adjumani district, followed by Kiryandongo hosting 34,637. The remaining approximately 29,397 refugees group is found in eight refugee locations, including 7,245 in Kampala.

Those settling in Atiak and Bibia in Amuru district have been found to be avoiding registration and are therefore not included in the official statistics.
The report says while new influx has declined, refugees and asylum seekers present similar mental health and psychosocial problems including four different types of mental health situations. They are depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety and alcohol abuse.

An interview with Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO) reveals that eight out of ten refugees suffer from at least one of the above four conditions in Adjumani, implying that 80% of refugees experience mental health problems.


About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.