Refugee Crises: A Good Lesson From Uganda

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Uganda is not one of the richest countries in Africa, talk less in the world. But it has what only a few countries in the world have. It has the benignant spirit and moral responsibilities missing, amongst legions of nations. Despite Uganda`s limited economic resources, it has demonstrated over and over again that it has more courage and willingness than the so-called super powers to undertake certain tasks and moral responsibilities. Ugandan`s willingness to act when others (especially those the world looks up to do so) are either reluctant, unwilling or unable to act has effectively defined the country positively and respectfully. These great attributes of Uganda are clearly demonstrated in the way the relatively poor country in the East Africa has been helping refugees to settle down in Uganda. Are the rich Western countries listening?

Uganda took in more refugees than any other country last year. Most of these refugees are fleeing the conflict in South Sudan. Years of conflicts in South Sudan have sent millions of refugees from the country to neighbouring countries with most of the refugees staying in Uganda. In 2016 alone, about 2000 refugees from South Sudan crossed over to Uganda daily, seeking shelter and protection. That number would climb to more than half a million refugees in the year 2016. With 500,000 refugees from South Sudan alone, the number of refugees absorbed by Uganda in 2016 doubled the total number of refugees from Syria in 2016. In the case of the Syrian refugees, most of them went to (or divided amongst) much richer (at least, richer than Uganda) countries in Europe such as Germany, Greece, Sweden, France, UK, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria etc. However, Uganda took in most of the refugees from South Sudan alone. Apart from food and shelter as in many other refugee camps across the world, Uganda goes further than that. Unlike in Europe and other rich parts of the world, refugees in Uganda are provided with land and materials to farm and sustain their lives. Land for refugees? Oh yes! Tell that to the mad Western nationalists (some call them “racists.“ Semantic choice and freedom, isn`t it?).This is unthinkable in the rich western world. That is not all. Despite the assimilation of the foreigners in their country, peaceful coexistence between Ugandans and their foreign guests is just a norm in the country, which former British Prime Minister, Churchill called “The Pearl of Africa.“ No walling proposal to curb the inflow of refugees into Uganda. Can anyone help me out with the telephone number of the White House? Sadly, such humane, compassionate act and open door policy of Uganda is hardly mentioned in the western media. The United Nations has lavished praise on Uganda`s chivalrous policy. But more needs to be done.

With the population of just 34 million, Uganda is housing more than 1.2 million refugees. Despite the willingness to openly welcome those in danger, Uganda, one of the most welcoming countries in the world, is struggling economically to fulfill this challenging task. Unfortunately, the United Nations says it runs shortage of finance to cope with the refugee crises. Morally, if countries are unwilling to welcome those in danger, a relatively poor country like Uganda has not only shown its capability, but it has equally demonstrated the ability and readiness to assist. It is really just that the whole world should emulate and appreciate the huge, noble and humanitarian task Uganda is taking. More than that, Uganda needs urgent financial help to cope with the demanding and challenging moral duty. Apart from the moral and financial support, Uganda needs security cooperation and support to thwart heinous activities of individuals, who may pose danger to the lives of these refugees, who desperately need good protection.

For sure, Uganda has set an enviable example. Others must follow suit. The world must support Uganda heartily. It is absolutely right and a wise thing to do.


Photo: BBC