Zombo is a  district with thousands of refugees without a  rehabilitation center

By Mike Rwothomio

The continuous ethnic clashes and rebel activities in the Eastern part of DRC continue to drive many Congolese into the West Nile subregion district of Zombo,  but no rehabilitation center has been established to deal with the crisis four years since the refugees started entering the district.

  The West Nile subregion District of Zombo since 2019 has been receiving refugees from DRC.

In 2019, a plan was reportedly hatched behind closed doors to have a rehabilitation center established in Zombo district after thousands of refugees from DRC fled to Uganda but internal conflicts between local leaders made UNHCR and the Ministry of Disaster and Preparedness to shift the goal post elsewhere notwithstanding the free land offered.

The situation got normalized but was re-ignited late last year when a bloody clash between the tribe of Lendu, the Alur community, and Alur Uganda coupled with rebel activities in Eastern DRC  drove a battery of asylum seekers in the Zombo district.

Most of the asylum seekers are currently taking refuge along the border Sub counties of Kango, Alangi, Zeu, Aka, Jangokoro, Athuma, and Padea town council in Zombo.

The asylum seekers most of whom are widows and children give horrific accounts of what they went through before accessing safe haven in Uganda.

Unlike in other Districts of the West Nile subregion where asylum seekers are taken to a rehabilitation center specifically designated for them, the situation in Zombo district is quite different as many of them are mixing freely with the community.

The LC5 chairperson of Zombo district James Oruna Oyullu has revealed that they are working around the clock to establish a rehabilitation center for asylum seekers in Zombo.

A Congolese mother at Zale trading center Papoga Parish Zeu Sub county Zombo district, takes care of more than ten children of her relatives most of whom have lost their parents in DRC due to the ongoing ethnic clashes.

He however adds that the biggest challenge is insufficient funds.

” We appeal for the establishment of a rehabilitation center here, as the district we don’t have resources yet we always receive these people all the time couples with what is happening in Congo” Oyullu noted

Zombo district local government with 15 lower local governments,  has more than six sub-counties at the border with over 20 porous borders and many of the asylum seekers are currently undocumented.

The RDC of Zombo district Rtd Lt Col Pius Alitema recently estimated that their number can exceed 600 yet many are living in the community without the authorities’ knowledge.

“These people are more than 600 and some of them remain undocumented, for your information, some are presenting with strange signs of diseases which we appeal to the district health department to look into” Alitema explained 

The Village health team supervisor for the border sub-county of Aka in Zombo district Alex Mananu said on a daily basis, at least they receive refugees most of whom don’t know their background.

“These people are ever crossing to Uganda but the challenge is most of them are not known. I think as a matter of security this thing should be taken seriously,” Mananu stressed

Last week, hundreds of asylum seekers poured into Uganda through the border town of Padea and Jangokoro Sub-county after a fresh conflict erupted between the  Padea clan leaders in DRC.

These asylum seekers are having a great impact, especially on social services, particularly health.

The LC3 chairperson of Padea town council Melki Onyutha Orwothuwun said” Padea health center 2 nowadays have been overwhelmed due to the influx of asylum seekers here, you find in just a day, drugs are gone couples with understaffing challenge amongst others”

Most of the asylum seekers from DRC  who are Alur by tribe, when a plan was initiated by some leaders to have them relocated to a rehabilitation center in Imvepi, reportedly declined on grounds that they want to stay with their fellow Alur community in
 Zombo district.

Zombo silently is joining the long list of most border districts in the West Nile subregion that have become home to more than 200,000 refugees with Adjumani topping the chart with 203,671.


The woman MP for Zombo district Esther Afoyochan also the commissioner of Parliament has promised to contact the ministry in charge so that part of the situation can be resolved.

Afoyochan notes that Zombo district being a border district needs to be considered by the concerned ministry.

“We have to have the capacity to either manage the situation as it comes by. As an area mp,  I will consult the Ministry of Disaster and Preparedness to come and intervene”, Afoyochan recently told the Whisper Eye news

Recently,  the state minister of northern Uganda Grace freedom Kwiocwiny cautioned the community of Zombo against welcoming some of the asylum seekers over security concerns.

Kwiocwiny tasked the Zombo district leadership to establish a rehabilitation center tentatively as she is hatching a plan to come with officials from Ministry of Disaster and Preparedness.

Uganda is currently hosting the largest number of refugees In the region most of whom are from DRC, and South Sudan their estimated population is around 1.2 million this make it the top refugee-hosting country in the region according to UNHCR.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *