more refugees from South Sudan are expected to arrive in Uganda in
2017, according to UNHCR, which is now aleay totalling 762,672 this year.
Can we expect the same sort of welcome that Europe offers refugees? After all, Uganda is much poorer than the wealthy EU and its citizens struggle themselves for a decent
life so could we blame the local Ugandans if they resented the
However, that is not what has been happening.
Modi, 17, has just crossed into northern Uganda from South Sudan and
within a few hours will be taken to Bidi Bidi, one of world’s largest
24 hours, he and his relatives will be settled on a half-acre plot
with the tools to farm and build a home.
of land has been made available to refugees. Refugees can move
freely, work and own a business.
is a showcase,” says Charlie Yaxley of the UN high commissioner for
refugees are ready to farm. Helena Kujang, who “followed the
footsteps of citizens” to safety, said, “We are going to grow our
own food. All the seeds that are available, we will plant.”
commissioner for refugees, David Kazungu, says “Ugandans have been
in exile and know what it means, and refugees are important for
social and economic transformation.”
2016 study by
University of California Davis and the UN World Food Programme found
that “refugees’ purchases benefit local and national economies,
and economic benefits exceed the amount of donated aid”.
countries such an influx would have led to a crisis,” says the
UNHCR senior field coordinator, Jens Hesemann , “Here
small cotton farmer extols the change. “The refugees are an
opportunity,” says Hamza Yassin, 23. “Before they came, this
place was empty. But they’ve created a marketplace. We can now buy
things close by.”
land to refugees allows them to immediately start settling, as no one
knows how long they will have to stay,” says Yann Libessart of
Médecins Sans Frontières. “Markets will expand, and the
distinction between a South Sudanese refugee settlement and a Ugandan
village eventually blur. This could give an economic boost.”