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May 24, 2024
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77 South Sudanese Refugees Arrested In Uganda After Deadly Inter-Clan Clashes

The Uganda Police Force last week arrested 77 South Sudanese refugees in the Palabek Refugee Settlement in the northern district of Lamwo after deadly inter-clan fighting among the Nuer which left three people dead.

According to refugee desk officials, the fighting happened between the Fangak and Bul communities of the Nuer between Sunday and Wednesday last week. Among the 77 suspects arrested, 21 are juveniles who participated in revenge attacks and they are currently being detained at the Palabek Refugee Settlement Police Post.

John Pasquale Udo, the Refugee Welfare Council Chairperson 3 at Palabek Refugee Settlement, explained that the fighting started after two refugee children fought at school.

“The genesis is very simple and it is because children fought at school. One female child, a prefect at the school, tried to advise a pupil from the other clan and it ended up in a fight. The headteacher contained the fighting at the school but after they went home, their mothers fueled the situation and it escalated into inter-clan fighting,” he narrated. “The fighting erupted in Block 6, 5B on the evening of Sunday 24 March and resulted in the injuring of one person seriously with a knife, another was cut with a panga and a third beaten badly with sticks.”

According to officials, this is the second time in two months that the two clans have clashed, bringing the death toll to six.

“We have reported a lot of cases in the last few years from one tribe only among the 27 tribes that we have at the settlement,” Udo said. “The other tribes live harmoniously but the Nuer tribe here has 16 sub-clans. The rest are peaceful but the Bul and Fangak are majorly the ones who often clash among themselves. Last December, they fought and we lost two people here in the settlement. One escaped to Kenya and he was followed and killed there.”

“It is a very serious situation between these two clans and we have lost 6 Nuer in the last four months,” he added.

For his part, Geoffrey Osborne Ochieng, the Lamwo District Resident Commissioner, said the 77 suspects are being screened to ascertain the real culprits.

“For the last six months, we have so far lost six people in these clashes and we do not want to have these occurrences again,” he explained. “So, we are going to deal with this squarely. Our team is not leaving any stone unturned and we will screen everybody.”

The district commissioner said there is an urgent need for verification after it was discovered that 27 of the refugees were not registered with the Office of the Prime Minister’s Refugee Department. He also called for the establishment of six more police outposts to bolster the security manpower in the settlement.

“There are people who are not registered here and also there are people from different settlements who are here so we will have to carry out a fresh update and screening because we have over 100,000 refugees in the settlement,” Ochieng stated.

Lamwo Refugee Settlement opened in April 2017 and officially hosts 88,898 registered South Sudanese refugees according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

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