The Congolese Refugee Community in Uganda (CRCU) celebrated the World Refugee Day today Wednesday, June 26th, 2019 in an atmosphere of meditation. The theme of the day was “Becoming Self-reliant”. The community gathered members and non-members at the Community Centre in order to pray to God rather than to celebrate. Around 1000 people from different backgrounds attended the function including the LC1 chairman of the area who represented the Makindye Division where the center is located. The prayer started at 10:00 AM and ended at 4:00PM. The Congolese Refugee Community in Uganda (CRCU) was joined by the Congolese Christian Community in Uganda (CCCU) and some members of the Congolese Diaspora joined their hands to pray together with the refugee structures.

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During the prayer, the CRCU remembered all the refugees who did not complete their process because death shortened their journey. They died over the lack of adequate treatment or because of negligence from the stakeholders who received the assistance but decided to embezzle the funds rather that dedicating them to refugees. While they are celebrating, Congolese refugees preferred meditating on the fate of the departures who were killed indirectly by those who claim to be their protectors. Not only the departed were thought about, the CRCU brought to God the fate of the sick refugees who do not have hope to heal because they were given appointments to see the doctors after six months yet they are in urgent need of treatment. They also thought of the children whose rights are always abused and who are not in schools yet their education was facilitated. Also they thought of the so called “UNHCR system” which remained without being progressive and refugees were told to wait for it. The CRCU could not forget their members who were always victims of arbitrary arrests only because the officers wanted to be bribed or simply because they are refugees. It looked hard to celebrate the World Refugee Day while these issues are not minded about.

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The CRCU advised the members that it was time for them to look for God; it was also time to call for his name. The members of the CRCU should use this day to honor the Lord. The members were all advised to humble themselves before the Almighty God.

A word from the Congolese Christian Community in Uganda: the delegate sent his gratitude to God for this wonderful day. He emphasized on the unity which generates the strength contrary to the division that can make the members weak. He made clear the dedication of the CCCU that is willing to work hand in hand with the CRCU in order to ensure the development of the community is a success. The CCCU promised to support all the activities of the CRCU by sensitizing the Congolese churches about the activities the CRCU is conducting. He concluded by saying that all authority comes from God.

A word from the President of the Elder’s council of the CRCU: he praised the day of prayers as a day of encouragement to all Congolese refugees in Uganda. He encouraged the members to also send blessings to Uganda and their leaders because we couldn’t be ourselves blessed if Uganda did not provide asylum to us. However he stated that the prayers should change the hearts of the Pharaohs who obstructed the move of the CRCU. He showed his worries on how to celebrate a WRD without mentioning the situation the sick refugees are experiencing, the abuse of the children’s rights, the lack of education support, and the arbitrary arrests our members are always subjected to. The leaders through the World Refugee Day gathered all Congolese refugees in order to sensitize on how to free ourselves from the captivity. Every Congolese should be able to become a self-reliant person. In conclusion he ensured all the attendees that their prayers were heard. He said that he had hope in a strong community.

A word from the Congolese of the Diaspora community: the delegate started by asking all the members to observe a minute of silence in memory of all the Congolese who are dying in Uganda and did not have the chance to go ahead or to return. He used a quote of the current President of the DR Congo whom during the national prayer he apologized to his population by saying that they gave humans the place of God by worshiping them as God. He stated that Congolese do not love one another because a simple opportunity given to a Congolese would be used as a way to exploit others. He added that most of the time Congolese consider only the “Baswahili” (Kiswahili speakers) and the “Bangala” (the Lingala speakers) and forget that the DR Congo bears more than 450 tribes. Americans know that America should always come first; he emphasized that Congolese should also have Congo first in their minds. He promised that the Congolese of the Diaspora will also work hand in hand with the CRCU in order to ensure the wellbeing of all Congolese in Uganda.

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A word from the Congolese Representative:

He called the members to unity. Congolese must be united. We have to work all together. Today is the first time Congolese have gathered together and the rain that came to shower the event was nothing else than blessings. The date of 26/06/2019would remain a special day. We could not celebrate the World refugee day when our mothers and fathers are dying because of poor healthcare services, our children are not studying, because of the livelihood challenges the members are facing. We, Congolese, have no support despite the funds they collect on our backs. Whenever we have problems, we always find ourselves struggling to solve them: when we mourn, when we are sick, we fight alone for ourselves. The services we are receiving are very poor. We need to work hard in order to become self-reliant. We came to Uganda because of war but we are now trying to open the roads for every member. We hear the stakeholders use the motto “system” when they want to answer refugees who do not know where their cases are. They would tell you your case is in the system but after one year, two years, three years they keep telling you the same thing. Which system would that be if it cannot progress? When you apply for visa in an embassy, they tell you to apply and they give you a deadline to check your visa progress and for sure when you come back you find an answer. The system they talk about in the refugee affairs in Uganda does never progress. We should open our eyes and mind what to do dear brothers and sisters. Many refugee communities have stopped wasting their time at different refugee offices because they are well organized. We should not be weak, we should rather become stronger. The CRCU, the CCCU and the Diaspora all the three forces will stand on behalf of Congolese. We shall work hand in hand in order to make sure the community is well settled. We are praying to God for everyone to see hope this year. The good servants should continue praying for our community. Those who get opportunities should always remember where they came from; the community, the churches, any background gathering. Let’s love one another. Let’s support the community in the work they are doing on the benefit of every member, and mostly in the social department. We have no funds so far but we are trying to look for partners. The only step we have made is the partnership with a bank. We call upon ladies to support the community by giving some of their time for the activities of the community.

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A word from the Norwegian Refugee Council member:

He stated that the Congolese community is the first community to get well organized among all the refugee communities in uganda. He emphasized on the respect of the laws of the country of asylum. However, he assured that people should be law abiding people by avoiding the crimes that are defined in the country. If it happens that someone is arbitrary arrested, the NRC can intervene and release the person.

Nshungibirhi Jean paul