You may recall, that some months ago, we talked about the refugee situation in Northern Uganda as people poured over the border in their tens of thousands to escape the widespread fighting in South Sudan’s civil war. Two million people have been displaced and one million have sought refuge in Uganda.
Someone recently said: “Imagine what it would be like for the people of South Wales if the entire city of Bristol arrived seeking food and shelter within the space of a two months. Impossible to imagine? Staggering as it may seem, the reality is even worse! It is as if the populations of two cities the size of Bristol suddenly arrived without any warning or preparation!”
The Ugandan government has been has been widely praised for its “Open Door Policy”. Nevertheless, in the chaos many children have been separated from their families. Older siblings care for younger brothers and sisters. Parents are likely to be in one refugee camp and children in another. Husbands and wives have become separated. The process of re-uniting families will go on for years.
They have tried to provide everyone with land so that the refugees can feed themselves but the constant pressure of new arrivals has reduced the amount of land that each family receives. They have enough to survive on but the long term outlook is grim. Everyone wants to go home. But for many it is far too dangerous.
Currently the government, local churches and missions are doing their best to provide educational and medical help. However, education provision is beginning to crack with one teacher to ninety six pupils in refugee areas.
A ceasefire has been agreed. There is hope for the future for the first time in years, and a great desire to end the war. However, a very similar ceasefire was reached in 2015 and collapsed in violence a year later. No one is going home just yet. Chris Dobson and a party from Bristol will be in Bidi Bidi refugee camp in a few weeks’ time.