REPORTER – Julius Bitamazire – IAS – UGANDA
Since Wednesday the 7th July 2016, heavy fighting broke out between the South Sudan ruling government and forces loyal to the 1 st Vice President Mr. Riak Marchar in the South Sudan capital Juba spreading to other parts of the country. Although not clearly quantifiable, huge destructions of property, loss of lives and other forms of suffering is being reported on media such Aljazeera, CNN, National Television (NTV) and much is awash in the local newspapers here in Uganda.
I travelled to the NW part of Uganda (Arua, Koboko, Adjumani and Yumbe Districts), where most of the refugees arrive in Uganda, to see for myself the refugee situation having been in a meeting at the UNHCR offices in Kampala.
The young girl is called Gonya Rose (12 years). She was in Primary 4. Her mother died before the war and the Father remained in Juba. They have no idea if he is alive or dead. She is the only child they had. She walked together with her grandmother for a week, before they crossed the border.
Here is a Child Headed family (unaccompanied minors) of five members all from Yei.
They are; Scovia Anna (16 years – in army green blouse); Nancy Nyadi (8 years – In sleeveless Kitenge dress); Agagka Blessing (6 years – wearing shorts); Christine Akina (6 years – in red top); Subura Joyce(3 years – with a necklace)
These children share a father with different mothers. They are all total orphans; they were helped to come to Uganda by their neighbour. The older girl, who was in school while in South Sudan, is now taking care of the young ones. Scovia was in P.4 and Nancy was in P.1.
They walked from Yei to Kaya (Approx.70km), boarded a public vehicle paid for by their neighbour to Keri where they were picked up by a UNHCR truck to Rhino camp.
When I arrived to one Settlement called Rhino Camp, I am left without words at the suffering of the refugees from South Sudan. The situation is quite appalling that one can’t fail to shed a tear due to the magnitude of the problem, with few humanitarian actors.
Over 80% of the new arrivals consists of women and children. There are also quite a number of Child Headed families (Unaccompanied minors). The others are the aged who have managed to come over for now.
Over 71,499 refugees have crossed the border into Uganda since the 1 st of July, and the number is increasing. On a daily basis the new arrivals are in thousands. Many of those I did talk to thanked God that they managed to cross into Uganda because many didn’t make it.
The challenge right now is that the period ahead of us is the heaviest rainy season in Uganda, so a daunting task is yet to come both for the refugees and the agencies who are responding.
IAS is on ground responding to the crisis together with other sister agencies, but the challenge is huge since there isn’t sufficient funds to take care of this immense catastrophe that has befallen these people.
The below are some of the identified critical gaps as of now:
– Water is a problem. The few bore holes cannot accommodate such big population. Drilling of new bore holes is much needed.
– Immediate need for temporary communal latrines & bath shelter including hygiene facilities (hand washing facilities and soap)
– Sensitization of community on acceptable hygiene practices
– Provision of water drinking containers to at least 5000 Households.
Health, Nutrition and Psychosocial
– Psychosocial support required to mitigate trauma effects
– Provide temporary shelter for Health Outreach
– Construction of huts for unaccompanied minors
– Provision of play materials for children
– Family reunions
Temporary overnight communal shelters to be used prior to construction of household dwelling shelters.
Julius Bitamazire – 11 AUG 2016 – KAMPALA – UGANDA – Pictures Julius B and team