At least nine refugees in northwestern Uganda have been arrested for attacking a police officer, police said in a statement on Friday.
Josephine Angucia, West Nile Regional Police spokesperson, said the suspects in the Omugo refugee settlement in Arua district disarmed and assaulted a police officer on Thursday as a protest against the meager amount of food given to them.
“They went ahead to hold the humanitarian service providers hostage and disarmed the constable,” said Angucia.
Local policemen are monitoring the situation, she said, adding that it was a “common scenario” at the camp.
In 2017, the World Food Programme announced a food aid cut by 50 per cent to hundreds of thousands of refugees in the east African country due to financial constraints.
In May, at least nine refugees were arrested and charged for leading riots and damaging humanitarian agencies equipment over alleged delay of food ration supply in the same camp.
However, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said its donors would withhold funding for Ugandan operations until refugee numbers were verified, after accusations that officials inflated the figures to steal aid.
Multiple investigations are under way by the Ugandan government, the UN and the EU into accusations that aid has been stolen.
Investigators are looking into whether food and other relief items intended for refugees were sold off, bribes paid and refugee girls trafficked.
Teresa Ongalo, a UNHCR spokeswoman, told a news conference in the Ugandan capital Kampala donors had raised questions about the number of refugees in Uganda.
“There’s concern that the numbers are not accurate,” she said. “What we have received from donors is an indication that until we’re able to verify the numbers they will withhold funding.”
UNHCR and the Ugandan government have embarked on verification of refugee numbers using the UN agency’s biometric system.
An estimated 1.4 million refugees are in the country, including more than a million from South Sudan where a four-year-old civil has left tens of thousands dead and uprooted an estimated quarter of a population of 12 million.
Other refugees in Uganda come mainly from Burundi and the eastern region of Democratic Republic of Congo.
In recent weeks the rate of daily arrivals from eastern Congo has spiked on the back of spreading inter-communal and ethnic violence.
On Tuesday UNHCR said it had planned for 60,000 new Congolese refugee arrivals in Uganda in 2018 but that the number was already above 40,000.