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JRS Adjumani participates in Uganda Solidarity Summit on Refugees

Owing to Uganda's conducive refugee policy and hospitality of the host communities, over 1.2 million refugees are settled, integrated with host communities. Adjumani District in northern Uganda remains the largest refugee hosting district in Uganda hosting 209,048 refugees, of whom 99.8% are from South Sudan, while 348 (0.2%) refugees are from Sudan, DR Congo and Ethiopia (source: Office of Prime Minister (OPM) Refugee Information management statistics (RIMS).

The overwhelming refugees arriving from South Sudan to find protection in Adjumani stands at 250-350 daily as of June 2017. The new arrivals continue to cite increased militia activities in South Sudan, characterised by massive killing, looting of villages, burning of houses, physical assault and forced recruitment of children as soldiers. Food insecurity due to failing crops, at a time when food prices are increasing due to inflation, lack of basic health services, education and livelihoods, and access to clean water are also cited as reasons for fleeing the country.

During the recent solidarity summit on Refugees held from 22nd -23rd June 2017, over 20 delegates visited the Adjumani refugee settlement at Ayilo I. Various activities were organized by UNHCR and implementing partners to showcase intervention responses for refugees, including lifesaving health services, food distribution, construction of shelters as well as provision of non-food items. This was meant to inform discussions during the delegates' high level policy dialogue on the plight of refugees and Uganda's need for support.

A campaign by the Jesuit Refugee Service in Adjumani sought to highlight the glaring neglect for refugee youth education. The number of young people without access to education or life forming activities that provide them with hope and direction is a growing concern. Less than 10% of the refugees have access to secondary education. Immediate negative effects include early marriages and pregnancies, anti-social behaviors, increased criminality, alcohol and substance abuse and, the return of young men to South Sudan to join armed forces.

In the long term, having such a large population of uneducated youth could lead to heightened conflict within the settlement areas, as idle youth grow older and compete for scarce resources whith little knowledge or skills for adapting to the changing environment. It also has economic implications, as young people who will constitute the bulk of the future work force are ill prepared for competition in an increasingly complex globalized economy.

During the summit, 20 JRS sponsored students carried banners and fliers with the following appeals to the summit delegates:

  • Increase funding for refugee education targeting the youth for vocational training and income generating activities (IGA) for self-reliance. Increase the number of training institutions as well as secondary schools in each settlement area as a means for equipping refugees and host community for sustainable development.
  • Invest in education infrastructure development at all levels to improve school enrollment rates.
  • Strengthen and expand teacher training through in-service programs targeting refugee and host community teachers to improve education quality.
  • Expand scholarship programs to improve access to secondary and tertiary education and enhance human resource development among refugees and host community.
  • Promote peaceful coexistence among refugees and between refugees and host communities
  • Invest in girls' education and promote special needs education by establishing specialized schools while strengthening existing ones

By Isaac Ijjo Jurugo,

JRS Adjumani Project Director

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