Tuesday June 20 2017

Let’s do more to end refugee crisis

Refugee camp

Refugee camp 

By Editorial

As Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate the annual World Refugee Day today to be hosted in Kampala, the world needs to take a back seat and meditate.
The UN Secretary General, Mr Antonio Guterres, recently had this to say about refugees. “I’ve met so many who have lost so much. But they never lose their dreams for their children or their desire to better our world. They ask for little in return – only our support in their time of greatest need”.
The choice of Uganda to host the solidarity conference, which intends to raise some $2 billion, is in itself significant. According to the UN refugee agency statistics, Uganda is currently hosting 1.2 million refugees - the second highest after Turkey with more than 3 million people running away from their home counties.
Of the refugee population in Uganda, more than three quarters are those running away from political turmoil in neighbouring South Sudan and are now settled in the northern districts of Moyo, Adjumani, Arua and Yumbe. Yet this is not the first time Uganda is hosting refugees exiled by political causes.
For decades now, Uganda has played host to refugees from Rwanda, DR Congo and Somalia. Likewise, Ugandans have fled before to DRC and Sudan.
The issue of refugees is not unique to Uganda or Turkey. It is a problem that affects the entire world. A close scrutiny of the causes of refugee crisis around the globe manifests similar origins - political causes.
And while we may laud the hosting countries for their hospitality, the burden on both the hosting communities and the effects on the refugees themselves is painful. For the hosts, they have to compete for the scarce resources with the new members.
There’s also the burden of crime and diseases, among others. And for the refugees, it means they are reduced to beggars, who are unable to explore many options to feed their families and raise their children in the best manner possible. East or west, home is best as the saying goes.
Much as we cannot entirely get rid of refugee crisis, those leaders whose actions or inactions have directly or indirectly led to refugee crisis should think beyond power. Think about the people first.