On Saturday 9, April 2016, InterAid Uganda hosted a delegation of high ranking officials from UNHCR headquarters in Geneva Switzerland. The function which took place at Sheraton hotel began with the exhibition where different groups of refugees show cased the different economic activities they are involved in. These included farming, Art and craft, tailoring, as well as co-curricular activities among others.
The delegation was treated to an hour of free entertainment from Tunaweza group. Tunaweza is an entertainment refugee youth group that specialises in Music dance and dram (MDD). The entertainment ranged from the drama skits, jazz, traditional Kinyarwanda and Kirundi music, then the Congolese music which did not leave people in their seats.
While officiating at the function, the Assistant Commissioner for Youth and Children Mondo Kyateka offered Tunaweza group an opportunity to be the lead entertainment group for 2016 International Youth day in August.
Kyateka asked the youth group to use music to unite people other than promoting hatred.
He asked the refugees to abide by the laws governing Uganda in order to live in harmony with the host communities.
The Executive Director, InterAid Uganda, Scholastic Nashinyama asked Ugandans not to look at refugees as a burden but a resource which can be tapped into for national development.
“There is lot of potential in these youth which we need to tap into and support. Över 300 youth wanted music dance and drama but only 30 were selected due to limited funding. Hopefully we shall get there,” she said
Aisha Mukaruyonza a refugee from Rwanda asked fellow refugees to work hard and never to look at themselves as vulnerable. “Being a refugee doesn’t mean you are not capable. Though we need support, we should also work hard to avoid over dependency,” she noted
The local council chairperson for Kawala Zone, one of the zones with high number of refugees in Lubaga division, Wilberforce Sserwaniko, shared his testimony on how he changed his negative attitude towards refugees. His attitude was based on the suffering he went through during the NRA guerrilla war in Luwero where he lost more than three family members.
Sserwaniko said , “We are all potential refugees. We have to change the negative attitude we have towards these people,” adding that, “These people live with us; they are our tenants, customers and our neighbours. We must create a conducive environment for them to live with us peacefully.”
UNHCR Representative to Uganda Neimah Warsame noted that the issue of urban refugees is still a challenge to the mission the fact that they are scattered in the host communities.
She revealed that plans are underway to work with local councils to ensure that all refugees receive the support needed for them to live a meaningful life.
After the dialogue the delegation headed to Kisenyi Health Centre IV, where it was taken around to learn more about the working relationship between the health centre and InterAid/UNHCR in relation to provision of medical services to the urban refugees. They also shared the challenges and opportunities where UNHCR can intervene with support.
The delegation concluded its visit with St. Peters Primary school Nsambya, a school which has close to 500 refugee children from Congo, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi. The delegation toured the 3- classroom block that was constructed by IAU/UNHCR last year to reduce on the congestion in classrooms. They also toured an incomplete storey-building which would have completely reduced congestion in classrooms but requires approximately sh100m for roofing and shattering to be fully complete.