A big number of refugee children have no access to education in Uganda. The few who attend schools are supported by their parents and sometimes by some NGOs operating in Kampala. Refugee parents are willing to educate their children but they have no possibility because education is very expensive either in Government schools or in private schools. Government schools may be affordable because parents pay lesser money but still many refugee parents fail to meet the requirements. The UNHCR through InterAid Uganda (IAU) always complain of having no funds to cater for the education of all refugee children and rely on the policy which states that refugees living in Kampala are not supposed to receive any support.

Yesterday Monday January 28th, 2019 the CRCU hosted a discussion meeting between InterAid Uganda and Refugees living in Makindye Division/ Kampala. A big number of refugees turned up. The Country Representative UNHCR was expected at the discussion but he sent excuses at the last hours (said Peninah who headed the IAU team). The discussion was focused on how better they would serve refugees in Kampala. They collected questions and complaints from refugees and answers were provided to the questions that would be answered while they postponed other answers for the next meeting with appropriate officials who are right people to provide them.

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About the education for refugee chidren InterAid Uganda promised to assist refugee children on these conditions:

– Children must be in schools that own a bank account and each child should bring the payment sleeps from the bank

– A report card from the previous academic year will be produced

– The school fees should not exceed 150,000Shs

– A Refugee Family Attestation and a Proof of Verification are documents that each family must present

– The level of vulnerability will be assessed by the education desk at IAU to decide whether the child is worth assistance or not.

An overview on this offer:

According to the International Standards, every child must attend basic education. Failure to do so the rights of this child are considered as violated. The assessment of the vulnerability of the child’s family that will be conducted by the IAU is much complicated because all refuges are vulnerable as per their status. None would seek support if he is economically well off. Access to these humanitarian services is always through long processes and a well-positioned person economically wouldn’t expose himself to such. It will look abnormal assessing the vulnerability for a refugee who seeks education support for his child in this environment.

There is a belief that refugees compete with Ugandans for all kind of opportunities that come. Confirming the vulnerability for a refugee from the DR Congo will look tricky for a Ugandan who believes that Congo is a very rich country and Congolese originated people are accused to have gold, diamond and dollars. Who will look vulnerable to the eyes of a person having this misconception? Probably the people who are almost dying in hospitals will look vulnerable; the single headed families, the SGBV survivors… How will they assess all these refugee parents who have no access to jobs who are the majority? They will surely have less number of children supported in the name of the policy that in Kampala refugees are supposed to cater for themselves. It hurts a lot when refugees hear that in a country where nothing is provided unless the refugee status you are granted, even humanitarian aid made available by NGOs is denied sometimes. Refugee children in expensive schools will not benefit from the assistance.

The cooperation with the partner organizations will also include among the many tasks in view to plead so that they can revise the policy that made some refugees to look marginalized by the services providers. Selecting refugees according to the level of vulnerability would be an exercise targeting other areas than the basic needs. By basic needs I mean food, healthcare, shelter, education, and protection. In Kampala, the fore mentioned are not provided. Refugees struggle a lot to meet them. We thought that at least education for our children would be a priority of the budget for 2019 since we always complained for having it poorly. They promised to improve the services but again they are mentioning boundaries. The CRCU depends a lot on their aims but it has also a big responsibility which is to have all the members assisted. Whatever truth the CRCU would tell will look like a threat to the integrity of the nationals who work in NGOs. Whatever complaints the CRCU would bring forward would look like a failure to cooperate very well with the partners. In the meantime, members of the community are currying their heavy burden as it is always their fate. How to address the bridges that have existed and may continue existing? The UNHCR might be a solution.

Though the UNHCR might be the solution to many of the gaps we find in the provision of the services, it is always very hard to talk straight to them always in the name of the policy that there should be an implementing partner. How to dodge the implementing partner who might not understand better our problems yet the Government wants this one? The community needs to be strong enough. The community must be able to cover the gaps by its contribution. We need a strong community. A community with a lot of empowerment must be our target. The community must be able to empower the members. The parents, males and females all together, need to be empowered as first responsible of the education of their children. Any other person would do this recklessly.

While facing all these needs, the CRCU is a community that is still struggling to settle themselves economically. We survive on membership contribution fees which are not enough to cover even the administrative needs. Our aim is to write proposals which can be read through our website and use other ways of fundraising. The need is to have all our children in schools as well as for the other members to meet at least their basic needs. We call upon our friends and any other person who feels like helping to find an emergency in our problems. We are refugees on a land where we are perceived as having better life by the host community. Our complaints might turn into noise. Please come to our rescue!

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That is who we are, the people who want to help and where we live.

Article by Jean-Paul N., chief-editor