This week, more than 50 families were assessed in the Congolese Refugees Community in Uganda (CRCU). The assessment was focussed on the views of the heads of families who appeared to be also the Principal Applicants in their refugee cases. Ninety percent (90%) of the assessed people complained of hardly affording livelihood needs. Seventy percent (70%) were made unable to afford the living conditions because of health issues. In most cases, the matter was worse when it is the bread winner who is also the person affected by the sickness. One female living with disability was found taking care of her family including the husband who has been made inactive by the sickness. Women who fled after being gang raped kept suffering from the aftermaths which made their health very weak yet they have big families to cater for. Ninety nine percent (99%) of the interviewees said they don’t have access to employment while 90% complained of faicing a high level of discrimination from the local population which does not support the presence of refugees on their land anymore. Many of them said that their children do not have easy access to education. The children who are in schools have sometimes to spend some days at home because of the delay in the payment of school fees which is the responsibility of the same unemployed parents.

Local NGOs and all the stakeholders were not able to provide the basic needs to them, they said. The OPM, after issuing the papers did not mind monitoring the assistance the refugees have access to and how to alleviate their burden. The UNHCR assistance goes to very few of them and the selection is based on criteria that remain hardly understandable. However, some NGOs tried their best by providing food and medication, counseling, psychotherapy, vocational training, micro-grant/ loan and referrals to the refugees.

The CRCU is doing this assessment to let people, NGOs, Government organizations, countries, private donors … know that on the ground here there are very vulnerable people who have not yet been heard and approached. They are the people who are always forgotten or just willingly left behind by the stakeholders in order to secure more funds on proposals in the future. They are silently dying. The youths are left without hope for the future. The children are not even provided proper feeding or clothing and so on and so forth.

The CRCU calls upon the countries of resettlement to approach the refugee communities in order to access the genuine vulnerable refugees because the communities live closely with these people and know better their plight and vulnerability. Indeed, the trust in the International NGOs and other local mechanisms set by the Government cannot be ruled out. But for the sake of the forgotten souls, the communities can be visited or given a percentage of the chance to refer cases they came across and found worthy to be considered. Country Embassies or High Commissions that are present in Uganda are humbly requested to help in spreading this messages to their Governments in order to save hidden andbelittled lives in the refugee communities in Uganda.

Jean Paul K. / Communication Officer