CERF-IOM project trains Marine Police in Hoima to support Congolese refugees

May 01, 2018


By Abubaker Mayemba

IOM, the UN Migration Agency, recently supported the Uganda Police Force’s Marine unit (MPF) at Sebagoro landing site in Hoima district, to improve their capacity and skills to assist Congolese asylum seekers.
After earlier announcing a donation of 400 life jackets and radio communication equipment to the MPF at Sebagoro, IOM this month trained eight officers in medical and search-and-rescue skills.

The support to MPF is under IOM’s Rapid Response project for Congolese refugees, funded by the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).
The IOM/CERF project is principally supporting the refugees in Kyangwali settlement in Hoima district on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). The need for training and other support for the Marine Police arose out of the Congolese refugees’ mode of transport.

Most of them have crossed into Uganda using wooden fishing boats and canoes to navigate the high waves of Lake Albert.  Incidents of drowning and getting stranded on the lake have been reported, but  MPF’s capacity to handle search-and-rescue operations has been limited.

The IOM consultant trainer at Sebagoro, Matt Benavides, handled sessions on topics such as coordinating basic maritime search-and-rescue operations, handling emergencies like boat collisions, and life-saving maneuvers such as making improvised pressure dressings and administering airway management to unconscious victims who have fallen into water.

Speaking at the end of the training, the head of the MPF unit at Sebagoro, Robert Ngabirano, thanked IOM for the support and the trainer for his commitment.  The training was very useful, he said, because the trainer came up with new techniques of rescue that would help the officers in their day-to-day work. Ngabirano hoped that more such trainings could be organized to benefit more officers than those at Sebagoro.

Prior to the training, IOM had worked with UNHCR and Office of the Prime Minister to evacuate 456 Congolese asylum seekers from small isolated landing sites where they had been stranded.