On September 12, 2020, a deadly clash ensued in Madi-Okollo town between locals and refugees of the Rhino Settlement Camp. In this clash, ten refugees were killed in cold blood and others sustained injuries.
In a statement released by the regional spokesperson SP Josephine Angucia about what transpired, it is alleged that at around 1 pm on Friday, a one Ajute Rahman Yassin was looking after cattle near the resettlement camp and that he was assaulted by refugee youths.
“Ajute Yassin ran to his uncle, a one Olega, who is the LC II chairperson of Kwili Parish, Odraku village, Rigbwo sub-county. He rushed Ajute to Olujbo Health center III for treatment and in that process, one of the ladies from Olega’s family ran to the trading centre informing boda boda riders that Ajute had been killed by refugees, hence the angry mob organised, went and attacked the refugee settlement camp, killing eight and injuring four others,” reads part of the West Nile region police statement.
Following the incident, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) issued a statement on September 14, condemning the act and seeking investigation into the killings.
“UNHCR is saddened and alarmed by the violent events that left 10 refugees dead and 19 injured, including one member of the host community, in Madi Okollo district in the northern region of Uganda,” reads the statement in part.
In addition to the high number of casualties, 15 refugee houses were burnt to the ground and another 26 are confirmed to have been looted and vandalized.
UNHCR, the statement further reads, is deeply concerned about the safety of ten refugees who remain missing and call upon authorities to search for them immediately. We offer our condolences to the families of the deceased and wish a quick recovery for those people who were injured.
“The disproportionate violent reaction by the host community to a communal dispute signals a threat to the delicate balance of peaceful coexistence in the rural villages where refugees live alongside their Ugandan hosts,” said Joel Boutroue, the UNHCR Representative in Uganda.
“In an environment of scarcity of resources, tragic incidents such as that of last Friday are alarming, as both the host and refugee communities face increased hardships and decreased access to basic services and livelihoods,” he added.
Boutroue stated that UNHCR is working with the authorities to ensure that additional security measures are adopted, and this deadly incident is investigated to help clarify the circumstances, including the role of local authorities
UNHCR has deployed teams on the ground to support refugees who are deeply traumatized by the attack and work with government counterparts and partners to respond to the needs of those affected while also initiating reconciliatory efforts.