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The future of refugees in Uganda: Strategic opportunity or a threat dilemma?

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Added 6th January 2018 04:37 PM

It is like when a father in a home of five members whose numbers have just been added by another four appearing to share the meal meant to cater for only five family members.

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By Simon P. Opolot-Okwalinga

On the night of January 2, 2018 about seven days after President Museveni assented to the ‘‘No Age Limit’’ Bill, while on my bed, a vision of children /teenagers representing Uganda at an international play event appeared. The teenagers in their composition are 75% coloured in complexion in form of Arabs or Indians or Chinese by origin. I could hear murmurs from the audience asking whether Uganda is a Country of Whites or Blacks. No one answered. I could only understand that this was no ordinary dream, but a forewarning of what might befall Uganda in the near future.
Away from the vision, on opening my Facebook, only to find a post ‘‘Israeli Government has given an ultimatum to African migrants to leave the Country within 90 days or face imprisonment. They either go back to their home countries or go to Uganda or Rwanda…’’ 

This post was no surprise since reports had earlier appeared on several news media platforms both local and international about the repatriation of over 3,000 Israeli refugees to Uganda as of 2015, with an estimated increase of 1,500 annually. One wonders the choice of Uganda and Rwanda; but just to cut the long story, the Israeli leadership, which is part of the strategic global empire, is aware of the tightly guarded secret of the true location of the Biblical ‘‘Holy Land’’ that these refugees are looking for! This could be the region of Uganda and Rwanda.
Coupled with the war and economic refugees from neighbouring Countries, Uganda is now home to over 1.5 million refugees, hence becoming Africa’s largest refugee hosting Country and among the top five Worldwide. One should, therefore, ask a question, Is Uganda under threat or under opportunity for her survival? The dilemma here is not how one looks at it, but how one responds to it.

If you look at it like a father in a home of five members whose numbers have just been added by another four new arrivals from the neighbourhood, more so appearing at lunch time and joining to share the meal which was meant to cater for only five family members, then this refugee surge becomes a threat to the strategic survival of this struggling family. It can also be a threat if the new arrivals have come disguising as needy persons, but with mischief to harm or otherwise dispossess the host of his property. And yet on the other hand, it becomes a strategic opportunity if you perceive the sharing of this small meal as a force-multiplier to a new beginning of a process to gain energy in order to produce more meals in the near future.
Consequently, do we want this refugee surge to turn into a threat or an opportunity? From the beginning as in the Bible, when Israelites went into captivity in Egypt, the Pharaohs did not look at it as a threat but turned it into a strategic opportunity. They obtained value out of them. And Egypt prospered in those years. The Egyptians utilised refugees’ talents and labour not only in farming, but in all spheres of life including interpreting dreams/visions for the Pharaohs.

In Guardian Ideology, we believe that every individual has got inborn talent(s) given by Almighty ELOHIM, the creator that must be identified, developed, deployed and rewarded accordingly for the reciprocal benefit of the entire society.
The refugee threat, apart from the obvious security dilemmas associated with it for which an extra burden to our intelligence agencies arises, should therefore be maximised as a strategic opportunity for massive inflow of additional labour and skills for our economic and industrial production.

In fact, President Yoweri Museveni has often talked about the strategic significance of a large population to a country’s economic development. Industrialisation, which leads to increased export earnings can only be realised in a highly talented economy. An economy that strives to identify, develop and rightly deploy talent is the state-of-affairs that we ought to achieve. And by talent, we mean the natural ability to do things well.

Therefore, our recruitment procedures must shift from a search for academic credentials to one that concentrates and focuses on talent identification and deployment. Bearing in mind that, unemployed youth, pose the greatest threat, not only to our national security, but to the economic survival and development as well. We either utilise these refugees for our prosperity or they utilise us for their survival. Like in war strategy, we should disrupt their planning cycle not to allow them to deploy us to serve their survival demands, but for us to deploy them to serve our national strategic interests.

The writer is a strategic studies graduate and Chief of Guardian Ideology. 

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