By Moses Kimuli
Iam in a saloon in Manchester amongst the clients waiting is a Somali. As we talk, he asks me where I am originally from. I tell him Uganda. He is visibly excited about my origin. I was in Uganda for 10 years before the United Nations brought me here to join my family. Uganda is my home he adds. He is among millions of former refugees who have lived in Uganda.
Uganda is ranked seventh globally among the countries with more refugees. Recently, during the East Africa-UK health summit organised by Uganda Diaspora health association and NRM Diaspora league in London, Dr Robert Kwesiga, the director of the Uganda Red cross talked about the challenges brought by refugees. One among the many was health.
A section of British papers always refer to President Yoweri Museveni as a dictator; something I find very offensive having seen what he is actually doing for Uganda and the world. I left Uganda after years of unemployment and there have been some things I have not been happy with, but this happens everywhere.
Refugees come in large numbers and these have not been taken seriously. They come with a big burden.
I will start with health. Every country will plan for its own citizens to have the right amount of medication, vaccines and build the required health centres but there is surprise amount of people that no one knows what to do with them. They flee their countries and bring along their families.
These will need treatment. A look at all the recent manifestos indicates that no single presidential candidate talked about dealing with the influx of refugees but why? Most take this a simple issue.
These bring along with them diseases like HIV,TB and many other illness like cancer. In Uganda, no one asks for an identification card to treat you so amongst the people waiting to receive cancer treatment could be 50% refugees but these have hardly contributed any taxes to the country.
I do not blame them because they fled for their lives, therefore, denying them treatment will be a death sentence to them by the host nation.
The crime rate increases whenever the country receives people who are not easily accountable for. The recent increase in crime rates in Uganda could be attributed to refugees.
These come from battle hardened countries like Somalia and South Sudan or even Congo. These are people who can have access to guns in their mother countries. Don’t you think they can still use them in Uganda for financial benefit? Anyone thought of that as a risk factor posed by refugees?
How about competing for jobs with the local people, does that explain unemployment? Evidence available shows that it cost £85,000 and £17,000 to resettle one Syrian refugee for Britain and American respectively.
Is anyone worried that two superpowers are predicting the countries debts to rocket high in trying to deal with the influx of refugees? How much more does Uganda spend in providing services to these refugees? Uganda is praised for her hospitality but it comes at a cost to Ugandans.
There are many undocumented risks that come with refugees and these need attention and more should be done from western countries in terms of helping Uganda to deal with that burden, especially in health funding.
Back to my “Dictator” taking the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) to Somalia helped stabilise the country and also swept it off of al-Shabaab terrorists. They were using Somalia as a training ground and have targets in Europe and America. Because of the presence of UPDF, these have found it difficult to regroup.
Thanks to President Museveni whom the west love calling ‘dictator’ that we in the UK could sit back and know that al-shabaab cannot have a good time training and planning their next target in Somalia.
UPDF has also been in South Sudan, Congo and Rwanda. One of President Museveni’s achievements is that Uganda now exports peace and security. He has built an army capable of not only keeping Uganda safe but other nations.Does the dictator need praise for this from Europe I bet yes he does.
Assuming the so called dictator closed his doors to refugees just like developed countries are doing, what would happen? Every year thousands of people die in the sea trying to cross to Europe. Thousands of Syrian refugees wait in Calai in France waiting to cross to the UK.
I know some of the most commented incidents in Uganda is the Kasese attacks that resulted in the death of some people. Fine we can compare that to what happened to Iraq.
Former American President George W Bush and former UK Prime minister, Tony Blair, publicly apologised for attacking Sadam Hussien after acting on false intelligence.
The late Sadam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction as earlier alleged. Millions died and the country’s infrastructure was destroyed. Iraqis still suffer the consequences of that war that was based on false intelligence as the two leaders of the world’s most powerful countries keep telling us and apologising.
Assuming Kasese attacks were based on false intelligence and the country has since learnt from that and will have plans to stop that in future does that help.
Why ban Major General Elwelu travelling to United States because of Kasese attacks yet the two ex-superpower presidents are allowed to travel around the world freely yet their actions led to the death of millions of people in Iraq. Are Tony Blair and George Bush hands any more cleaner that Maj. Gen Elwelu?
How come Tony Blair gets a big salary to advise African Countries? It reminds me growing up seeing pictures of White Jesus and Black Devil. So white is good Black is devil. Tony Blair and George Bush are not dictators but Museveni is? How sad?
Actually the western countries should help President Museveni in his goal to stabilise all the neighbouring countries. This would stop people from to fleeing to Europe.
Instead of spending heavily on looking after refugees, why don’t you empower the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces to stabilise the region hence stopping refugees coming to Europe for safety.
If it costs (£85,000) that is over sh300m to resettle one refugee, why don’t you invest this money in peace keeping in countries where there are wars and keep these people safe in their countries without having to come to Europe for safety?
Anyway the good news is that as one of the outcome of the East African-UK health summit, Everton Football Club has agreed to work with Uganda in helping with refugees.
Everton will send some of their biggest stars like Romelu Lukaku and Rose Barkley to come to Uganda early next year and these intend to help by identifying football talented people, mostly refugees, and helping their improve their talents.
The writer is Interim spokesperson NRM DIASPORA LEAGUE based in London United Kingdom