Uganda is a stable country with a border-to-border tranquil environment. The country is also a key player in the coordination of international peace and development efforts in Africa. Uganda is one of the leading host nations for refugees in the world. Figures from the country’s Department of Refugees, under the Office of the Prime Minister and UNHCR indicate that by April 2017, Uganda was ‘home’ to over 800,000 refugees. The bulk of these are from south Sudan.
According to UNHCR, Bidi Bidi camp in north-western Uganda, with 274,000 refugees is the largest in the world today. Other refugee camps are in northern, south-western and southern Uganda. Uganda’s capital city, Kampala, also hosts over 20,000 refugees from South Sudan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi. One stand-out aspect of Uganda’s approach is to integrate refugees and support their livelihood enterprises so they don’t depend on hand-outs alone.
For instance, through a partnership between the Department of Refugees, UNHCR and a humanitarian Agency, Inter-Aid, refugees in Kampala are now provided with practical skills for starting and running small scale income generating enterprises in the city. Named after the UN Secretary General, the Antonio Gutierrez Center in Kampala is an outstanding facility for refugee support.
Here, refugees are provided with skills in metal fabrication and vehicle repair, design and tailoring, production of African crafts and fine-art pieces, production of fuel-wood saving briquettes, indigenous music production and drama-acting – among others. Directly supported and supervised by Inter-Aid, the center also supports refugee communities to find markets for the items they produce.
As part of Africa Sceneries’ out-reach initiative, we encourage our clients to visit refugee settlements in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, or where possible, even up-country. Through subsequent knowledge-sharing, your visit to such settlements will raise awareness and strengthen efforts towards global refugee support efforts.
We also encourage our clients with a few extra coins, to buy some of the items refugees produce, like African out-fits, art-crafts, bags, jewelry and ornaments. The feed-back we receive indicates that this is one of the most fulfilling volunteering activities for our clients and other visitors to Uganda!
An ‘open-door’ and integration refugee policy has earned Uganda several global accolades. You, too, can be a part of this story! Please contact Africa Sceneries for details about how you can participate in this unique refugee engagement initiative.