Refugees demand for inclusion in govt programmes

LAMWO– Refugees settled in the three settlement centres in Lamwo district want to benefit from government programmes such as; Uganda Women Entrepreneurship program, (UWEP) and Youth Livelihood Fund, which are geared toward improving household incomes.

They argue that they are also needy just like the host communities.

Chairperson of refugees in Lamwo settlement, John Pasquale asked the government to include them in the programmes aimed at improving the lives of the natives, saying most donor funds received were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Many of the funds from the donors were affected due to the prolonged Covid 19 pandemic and many benefits have been cut off, something that is impacting on us negatively,’’ he said

There are several government programmes running in various districts where we took refuge, if such categories like us are taken on board, we shall all improve on household income at the same pace, Pasquale said.

However, the deputy Resident Commissioner Oswin Oguti when contacted to comment on the matter said refugees should not compete with the natives, what is allocated to them by the development partners is enough to kick-start their lives.

“Most development partners allocate 70 percent of the aid to refugees and 30, percent goes to the host communities,’’ he advised, adding that the aid received by refugees can help them sustain their lives.

A total of 70,000 refugees are settled in the three settlement centres of Palabek- Kal, Palabek- Gem and Palabek- Ogiri all in Lamwo district.

In 2016, the government launched the UWEP programme at a tune of Shs 53 billion, to support women through the provision of interest-free credit and technical advice.

Government earmarked Shs265b to empower poor and unemployed youth countrywide in 2013. The Livelihood Programme targets unemployed youth.

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Lira land board secretary in trouble over corruption

LIRA– The acting secretary for Lira district land board, Pastor Francis Okello Olwa is in trouble again for illegally processing a land title for Mayor’s Gardens in Lira City and allocating part of the land to a top businessman in the city.

According to a source at Lira City Council, Okello Olwa was processing the title without notifying the council yet the board was suspended by the Lands minister two months ago.

“It raised a lot of queries because the district land board was suspended and secondly the City council didn’t discuss anything pertaining to the processing title for Lira mayor’s garden,” a source who declined to be quoted said.

“We have also learned that part of the land neighboring Shell fuel station was allocated to a businessman in the City,” he added.

Okello Olwa after he was arrested (Photo by Patrick O. Adupa)

Olwa who is a senior pastor at Truth Fountain West in Lira City was arrested in April 2022 while ferrying a heap of land-related documents in his car at night. He was released on police bond pending investigation.

But a few days later, the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Judith Nabakooba, suspended the district land board.

“The purpose of this letter is to suspend the officials of the board to pave way for investigation into the allegation,” she added.

Among those that were supposed to be kicked out as per the minister’s letter were; Okello Olwa, Paul Cankoma (chairperson) and four others.

However, the district Chairperson, Richard Coxson Okello Orik has since turned down the minister`s directive to suspend the board members, saying he had not seen any crime committed by the board, therefore they could not leave office.

A team from State House Anti-corruption Unit, stormed the district and re-arrested Okello Olwa, and whisked him to Kampala.

Samuel Arinatwe, an investigating officer in the case said the suspect hid key documents in relation to fraudulent land transactions but they are still tracing.

“We managed to recover one among the many documents we are still demanding,” he added.

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