It is ironic that developed countries are queuing up, praising poor Uganda for looking after millions of refugees.
By Sam Akaki
Once upon a time, in Teso, there was something called "Elomabon". In Lango, they called it "Acekene", literally meaning a food crop that nurtured itself, normally by the roadside or abandoned homestead.
Thanks to these nobody's-and-everyone's food crops, President Yoweri Museveni and others in our age bracket did not starve. Today, Ugandans are "oppressed with two weak evils-age and hunger" (William Shakespeare in ‘As You Like It'). When shall return this shortly.
Meanwhile, it is ironic that developed countries are queuing up, praising poor Uganda for looking after millions of refugees.
The EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management has praised Ugandan for receiving "refugees like friends and neighbours from 13 countries in the region", (EU commits sh840b for refugees, New Vision, June 23, 2017).
In a separate setting, the UK Minister for International Development, Lord Bates "applauded Uganda's refugee policy that he described as the most generous and progressive in the world", (Uganda is the most generous country, UK minister, New Vision, June 23, 2017).
Earlier, in a screaming headline, ‘Uganda is the world's best place for refugees', the UK Guardian newspaper recently reported:
"People who now call Nyumanzi in northern Uganda home talk of leaving behind hunger, torture, looting and killings. But in coming to Uganda, they have struck lucky. They are treated perhaps better than refugees anywhere in the world".
The EU, UK and The Guardian have a point. According to UN and other authoritative reports, each of the 1.7 million refugees in Uganda is guaranteed access to food, education, health service, security and land to build their own houses and or start a farm.
Tragically, precious few native Ugandans can boast such privileges. The vast majority are killing each other over land, dying because they cannot afford the cost of private medical service while others are starving because of the prolonged drought.
Ignored by the EU and international humanitarian agencies, native Ugandans have become destitute in their own country.
Where is the evidence?
Like most supposedly better off Ugandans at home and abroad, this correspondent is receiving almost daily SOS text messages from desperate relatives asking for help. Last Monday, a nephew wrote: "Uncle Sam, pls help me with some money to buy beans and posho because of the drought (SIC)".
Our dear nephew is an able-bodied young man in his early thirties, living on his piece of land with his wife and two young children. But due to drought, triggered by high population growth, the decimation of trees for building materials and firewood, the once fertile land where food crops once grew with minimum attention, has become a barren semi-desert.
Our cousin's humiliating condition is shared by millions of Ugandan families in the north, east, central and west, who are not considered by the EU as eligible for any emergency humanitarian support.
It is much worse for Ugandans who have fled the country in the false hope of finding a better life in Europe.
In Libya, the gateway to Europe, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has recently reported that "Africans trying to reach Europe are being sold by their captors in slave markets".
In France, African migrants had created a colony in the "Jungle" camp at Calais before it was demolished by the French authorities. It was claimed that the former "Jungle" inhabitants had refused to be rehoused in shipping container!
Meanwhile, in September 2015, the Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto reportedly told the international media: "We have made the decision to start the construction of a fence starting from the Hungarian-Serbian-Romanian border to stop migration pressure"
Since then, a series of razor-wire fences have been erected all around Europe to keep out Ugandan and other African migrants.
In Germany, those who have managed to go through the wire fence were being detained at a former British military base in Detmold.
In the UK, they are being held at "Immigration Removal Centres" at Yarl's Wood, Bedfordshire, Brook House, Gatwick; Campsfield House, Oxfordshire; Harmondsworth, Middlesex; Morton Hall, Lincolnshire and several many others.
Across Europe, African migrants are accused of everything from taking jobs and houses from the natives; committing all manner of crime, causing population increase and "changing" the host countries' "way of life".
As a result, anti-refugee political parties have sprung everywhere: the ‘National Front' in France, United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in Britain, The Alternative Germany in Germany and The Freedom Party in Austria.
But we know of no country in Europe, the richest region of the world, which is hosting a fraction as many refugees as Uganda, a foreign-aid-dependent country.
Instead of praising Uganda for looking after millions of refuges, the EU should airlift these refugees to European countries and use the sh840b for feeding the millions of starving Ugandans.
The writer is the Former FDC International Envoy to the UK and EU, former independent parliament candidate in the UK, now executive director, Africa-EU relations