Humanitarian Initiative Just Relief Aid’s (HIJRAs) first month in Nakivale Refugee settlement in Isingiro district in the Southern Western Part of Uganda commenced at a time the Uganda Government through the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) is undertaking the refugee verification exercise in the Settlement. The verification exercise is being undertaken to update the refugee register and get a clear picture of the refugee population in the settlement with its various categories of refugees and those with special needs. Nakivale Settlement has since being established in 1958 continued to receive asylum seekers from the neighboring East and Horn of African countries specifically, Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC), Somalia, Eretria, Ethiopia, Burundi, Rwanda among others while supporting the existing refugee population with the support of UNHCR and other operating partners.
HIJRA has taken advantage of the exercise to ground itself among the refugee population to fast track many vulnerable cases within the settlement through the verification exercise after expanding from Oruchinga refugee Settlement in the same district. Conversely, many refugees seizing this opportunity of operational partners being very close to communities for this period of time have come forth with their protection and other concerns for HIJRAs attention. A month after the exercise has begun has seen protection and other cases ranging from separated families to the most vulnerable that are not able to support themselves to cope like the elderly with large families of grand children or terminally ill supported.
Gahungu Augustine, 36 years with his wife Nyanziza Namayana from Katanga DRC after going through the exercise sought HIJRAs help on how to get further health support for his relative with a heart condition. He said: “I have been a refugee in Uganda for 7 years and I am glad I am well settled without any problem. But My family member has a serious heart condition that requires additional help”
It is such cases with special needs that HIJRA is supporting to identify further assistance to help them overcome their challenges to be safe and live in dignity. The organization is also coming up with communication strategies through existing structures to facilitate communities directly raise their concerns with the organization for it to swiftly respond while developing strategies to help refugees become self-reliant.
HIJRA has further facilitated various community meetings bringing together refugees and operating partners on the ground to share community challenges for partners to address and or support communities strengthen their own coping mechanisms to challenges they are experiencing. While on the other hand, it has in conjunction with the Office of the Prime Minister conducted prison visits to support asylum seekers, refugees and local individual detainees in Isingiro and neighboring district detention centers conducting awareness raising sessions on their rights and providing them Non-food items.
As the organization deepens its work in the settlement, it remains eager to reach out to each person of concern among the refugee community specifically the most vulnerable of the community. HIJRA remains steadfast not only to support refugees in Nakivale and other settlements in protection and other services but to inspire them to dream, be creative as to tap into local existing opportunities to meet their own and community needs to live a life of dignity creating another home away from home!
By Janet Asiimwe