By Titus Kakembo
In spite of its less privileged status, Kiryandongo Refuegee camp is a holiday resort for victims of the tribal clashes victims from South Sudan.
Children, their mothers and the elderly wearing forlorn expressions have nothing but tales of spine chilling experience of loved ones, relatives, friends or in laws being harassed, maimed or killed.
“In the camps are the elderly, toddlers and mothers battling for survival,” said Office of the prime minister commissioner Douglas Asimwe.
“We were taken by surprise with this volume that begun as a trickle in December last year and turned into a flood now.”
The resources and infrastructure are challenged,” asserted Asimwe.
“Lucky enough no death has occurred. Equipped with the meager resources, staff and infrastructure we have been able to cop.
We have more than 70,000 refugees in our hands as I speak today.
They are located in Kampala, Kiryandongo and Adjumani.”
Adding that, they need every support ranging from food, security, shelter, healthcare and acceptance to start a new life here.
The United Nations Child Care (UNHCR) Titus Jogo concurred that both the state and other players are challenged by the influx of refugees.
Sudanese children spend the whole queuing for water because some of the water pipes have run dry.
Photo by Titus Kakembo
“Can you imagine we are receiving 550 refugees per day from the 100 we had by February 2013,” said Jogo.
“They need clean water, health services, food, shelter, sanitation and a conducive environment to live in.”
A tour of Kiryandongo, Adjumani and Nebbi reception centres was a revelation of the bitter truth where; the elderly, children and women queue for registration, food and water.
Kids with spindly limbs and curly hair were seen weeping as they sucked their mother’s dried up breasts.
Men are complaining about their wives failure to conceive and keep their family names to stay live.
But Dr. John Ekinu says a bad diet does not allow for ovulation.
An old man sipping a soda. Photo by Titus Kakembo
“And the enclosures in which the refugees make love are not conducive for conception,” said Ekinu.
“When a lady is poorly nourished or is sexed in an environment that does not make her comfortable, there are chances of failure to conceive.
Especially if they are forced into the act.”
Talking to the refugees was revelation of their needs. The children want toys, the men want money buy beer, gamble or marry more wives.
Office of the Prime Minister commissioner Deogratious Asimwe said they are receiving so many application of refugees in Kampala as well.
“Applicants come from DR of Congo, Eritrea, Somali but a majority are from South Sudan,” says Asimwe.
“And their volumes, needs and challenges are shooting up. First of all they are flooding reception centers.
Then they have a language barrier. And some suffer from tribal hatred.”
“Reception centers like that of Kiryandongo were designed to receive and contain less volumes than what we are getting today,” explained Asimwe.
We urgently need more teachers, furniture, health personnel and infrastructure.”