Pagirinya refugee settlement raises red flag on smuggling

By Jurugo Emmanuel Ogasto

The Block leader of Pagirinya 2 refugee settlement in Adjumani district in Uganda said there is high rate of smuggling in the refugee camp.

Ladu Peter told No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper on Saturday 18th March 2023, that the act may bring insecurity in the settlement.

He said that the commonly smuggled goods across the porous border to Pagirinya settlement include fuel, powdered milk, sugar and rice among others.

Ladu explained that while the border is well managed, and backed by the natural barrier, River Unyama, some smugglers still use canoes to ship contraband through the water and have often intercepted them en-route to neighbouring Gulu City and Adjumani district.

He appealed to Office of Prime Minister in charge of refugees to introduce public awareness on informal trade in the settlement.

“These young boys think of shortcuts instead of informal trade, if it’s possible, let OPM introduce public awareness because I know South Sudanese, they will never stop,” he said.

Ladu said frequent security patrol by Ugandan Police may draw tensions in the refugee camp.

“These boda bodas operating in Nimule are the ones doing this smuggling, they buy cooking oil, cigarettes and fuel from Nimule then bring it here that’s why the police every day move here,” he said.

“Many people have been killed in this business and the refugees fear to see police uniforms every day,” he added.

One of the smugglers who spoke to No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper with a condition of anonymity said it’s the economic crisis in the country which is making them to do such dirty business.

“UNHCR has reduced our food ratio, what do you expect us to do,” he questioned.

In 2022, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) commissioner-general said the authority is developing a tax education prospectus to facilitate the education of taxpayers in the country.

They also proposed colouring of fuel on transit to East African community member states for easy identification and interception once smuggled which he argues will help put an end to illicit trade across the borders.

More than 20 people both Ugandans and South Sudanese have been arrested and charged for allegedly using long-distance cargo truck drivers to smuggle tonnes of illicit drugs into the country through Elegu in 2022.

The District Police Commander of Adjumani did not respond to several phone calls.

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