By Mukose Arnold Anthony
Contradictions in the ministry of Refugee and disaster preparedness have developed after the cabinet minister Hilary Onek refuted claims that government accepted the relocation of over 500 Eritrean and Sudanese refugees as addressed by the state minister of the same ministry Musa Echweru on 13th this month at Uganda Media Center.
While appearing before the presidential affairs committee Friday morning to discuss issues raised on his ministry’s policy statement for next financial year Onek said that he is not aware of any confirmation by the government to accept African migrants from Israel but instead the government is currently evaluating the demerits and merits of the request but they haven’t accepted their request yet.
In a hitted debate from MPs led by the committee Chairperson Jessica Ababiku and co- Adjuman woman legislator tasked the minister to provide justification as to why Uganda has continuously hosted the migrants even when the country is in refugee crisis. The Mityana South MP Henry Makumbi wondered why Israel with a larger capacity chooses to dump refugees in Uganda.
“We have questioned the move because the country is on stress and socially budget wise, environmentally the refugee influx in the country is worrying, now if the refugees had gone to a well off country like Israel why should we add on over 1.4M refugees in the country now we as legislators have a concern because we have to discuss what pains the nationals, we have been to Bidibidi and Nakivale camps and discovered how the environment has been destroyed, “MP Makumbi expressed concern
While responding to the house concern Onek said that Uganda is a signatory to several conversions which should be respected. “My imagination is that these people might have been discriminated that’s why may be they chose Uganda as their best destination” Onek explained
“Putting that aside, the government is currently evaluating the merits and demerits of this request whether we should receive these people and I don’t recall any acceptance and I haven’t seen it though am not the only one in government and even if it accepts it I haven’t been informed and what you should know I don’t man boarders, I dont man immigration and I don’t man these places where they flock from except those who report to me as refugees” Onek explained to the committee.
The nation was last week shock by the press reports of 500 African refugees from Israel reportedly enrooted to Uganda with the state minister for refugees Musa Ecweru recently confirming that the government had accepted to host them.
Onek stated that the government had received a request from the government of Israel noting that the request was for the transfer of 200 Eritreans and 300 South Sudanese to Uganda. He argued that relocation of refugees is common place across the globe and that Uganda cannot close its borders to refugees willing to come here.
When pressed further he revealed that to the best of his knowledge the government was yet to respond to the request from Israel.