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1,000 South Sudanese refugees go without cash, food supplies

More than 1,000 South Sudanese Refugees in Adjumani District have been left stranded with no cash and food supplies after their names disappeared from the distribution list managed by Office of the Prime Minister [OPM], Sunday Monitor has learnt.

The refugees have reportedly not received their monthly food ration and cash benefits for four months now.

Recently, some of the refugees raised complaints that they are always turned down by officials from OPM whenever they seek clarifications on the matter.

Adjumani hosts about 200,000 South Sudanese Refugees in 18 settlement centres across the district.

Ms Mary Opia Loa,55, a refugee in Maaji 3 Settlement Camp in Ukisijoni Sub-county, Adjumani District, told this newspaper that she has not received food rations for her family since September.

The mother of four who fled from Pageri County in Eastern Equatorial State in 2016, said they have resorted to living on handouts from well-wishers and neighbours.

“We don’t have what to eat. We don’t know what has happened to our names on the food distribution list,” Ms Loa said.

Ms Loa alleged that when she followed up the matter with officials from OPM she was told that her food cards were photocopied and invalid for receiving food.

Ms Betty Cunyua,32, a mother of five, shares similar plight.
Ms Cunyua alleged that she stopped receiving food aid in October after OPM officials told her that her food cards details were not corresponding to what they have in the data system.

“I have been in this settlement centre since July 2016 and nothing of this nature happened to my family. I am wondering what could have happened,” Ms Cunyua said.

The Maaji 3 settlement chairperson, Ms Santina Kiden, said a total of 200 refugees in her area have missed out on food and cash benefits for the past four months and that efforts to help them have been futile.
Because of this, she said the affected people have resorted to charcoal burning in order to earn an income.

Mr Titus Jogo, the OPM refugee desk officer in Adjumani , on Thursday acknowledged the troubles of the refugees but revealed that the problem was caused by the recent adoption of new tools for registering and managing refugee data.

Mr Jogo said they recently shifted to proGres version four [proGres v4], a globally used technology to enable an improved data management capability as recommended by aid agency UNHCR.

Mr Jogo, estimates that between 1,500 to 2,000 refugees across all the settlement centres in Adjumani have been affected by errors in the new system.

Initially, OPM had been using the Refugee Information Management System (RIMS) which earlier captured inflated figures of South Sudanese refugees in the country.

“When we adopted the progress v4, there were many changes that happened on the names of the refugees. Names of those who were supposed to receive cash and food disappeared and others were altered…,” Mr Jogo said.

He, however, appealed for calm among affected communities saying they are working hand in hand with World Food Programme and UNHCR to rectify the problem in all the 18 settlements in Adjumani.

By Daily Monitor

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