Celebrations for World Refugee Day in Nakivale Refugee Settlement kicked off with the sunny weather agreeing with the mood in the air for the day in Juru which when loosely translated from Kinyarusha means “Heaven.” The invited delegates and community members all came together to physically stand with the refugees as they commemorated their day. The celebrations are seen as a sign of victory the refugees have realized through overcoming their sorrows and finding peace and safety after fleeing their homeland due to conflicts and wars. Nakivale Refugee Settlement currently supports over 70,000 refugees from Southern Sudan, DR Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Burundi.
World Refugee Day is held every year on June 20th, to commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees all over the world. The day was filled with many activities and presentations that supported the theme “Uganda Stands #WithRefugees,” with a special presentation from Tusidiane Group which is under HIJRAs psychosocial program addressing issues of terminal illnesses and how to get the appropriate help.
While speaking at the celebrations, RDC Isingiro, Herbert Muhangi commended the refugees and host communities on their peaceful coexistence and appealed to the neighboring countries to solve the problems within as a way of answering the questions to why people are running away.
“Uganda is being watched by the world. We seem to have the solution for a problem others have failed to solve with our open door policy. As the UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres, promised to support Uganda, we too as government pledge to protect refugees in whichever way we can,” he said.
Janet Asiimwe HIJRA’s Field Program Coordinator on behalf of the implementing partners urged refugees within the settlement to avoid irregular movements back to their home countries when they are still unstable or other neighboring countries when faced with challenges in the settlements for no problem has ever been solved by running away. She encouraged refugees to work with UNHCR and the different implementing partners to find solutions to challenges, work hard, be creative and strive to reach self-reliance.
The day was not short of songs of praise for the refugee community for bringing cultural diversity to the community, their continued efforts to protect the environment and bringing access to better services to Isingiro District that hosts the settlement. The hosts were also appreciated for sharing the little resources they have and learning to live with different cultures.
The Senior Commandant Nakivale, John Bosco Ssentamu, challenged the refugees to reduce the dependency syndrome they have and adopt a self-reliant lifestyle. “Nakivale was selected as the best camp in Uganda because of its policies that favour both the refugees and host community” He implored all stakeholders to maintain Uganda’s model of refugee management by fully utilizing the opportunities availed by UNHCR and partners.”