Friday January 10 2014

Friendly neighbours do not isolate refugees

By Vincent Buruga

Wilson Abinikua’s comments about the need to settle refugees in camps, published in yesterday’s Daily Monitor, capture important issues. While I conquer with him on security matters, I disagree on some of the points he advanced about settlement of refugees.

Fro instance, great caution must be taken on settlement of the refugees, especially checking them at the entry for weapons and ammunition. Also, I believe it is safer to settle the Dinka and Nuer ethnic groups in different camps. We cannot ignore the ethnic tension, especially with the development that some of the refugees are crossing to Uganda with bullets and army uniforms.

Daily Monitor also reported yesterday that tribal clashes have erupted between the Dinka and Nuer tribes in Elegu camp, Amuru District, and in Adjumani District. It should be noted that in such cases, these people may use pangas, hoes, or other implements as killing machines; that is why the situation should be closely monitored.

My view is that while we monitor security, we should ensure the refugees feel at peace and loved by Ugandans so that they will do the same when they return home to South Sudan once peace is restored. Mr Abinikua’s strict proposal on location of settlement and confinement to controlled zones are, therefore, not necessary. It sounds inhuman and abuse to people’s freedoms. The refugees are fleeing for safety, forced by circumstances so there is no point in isolating them.
Refugees cannot feel secure and safe when subjected to harsh conditions after escaping violence at home. The refugees did not choose to be in the circumstances they are in.

On resources, we are living in a free market economy. Those who have the money get what they want and those who do not have, suffer. Refugees who have money to rent in urban centre should not be limited or denied housing just because they come from another country. Who applied to be born in a given country? Our state/nation troubles are all makings of lack of love and absence of peace in our hearts.

If God is love and the author of peace and God is our father, then who built the boundaries and segregated us?
We need to learn to be Africans - one people, not unfriendly nationals of neighbouring countries.