If it ain't broke...it might actually be broken

You cannot address an issue or a problem without first admitting that there IS one.

In April 2017 a Dutch public broadcasting agency NOS published a story on Uganda "the refugee paradise". The article was titled: "Welcome refugee! Uganda welcomes you with open arms!" A South Sudanese colleague frowned after reading the translated article. "How can they see this as paradise?" he asked. "Don't they know that people who are here are the ones who are not able to go somewhere else? Live in the city, or perhaps another country? There is no such thing as a paradise here."

Uganda is a country about the size of Oregon and home to almost 42 million people. And the population growth is increasing exponentially. It is also home to refugees from at least 13 different countries and over 1.2 million from South Sudan alone. More than 86% of new arrivals from Sudan are women and children. Refugee women arriving in neighboring countries have also reported repeated rape, the killing of their husbands, and abduction of their children. South Sudan's conflict has now raged on for nearly five years and affected more than 4mil lives. 

(For scale: California is home to almost 40 million people and much larger than Uganda.)

193 member states of the United Nations in 2016 adopted the New York Declaration committing members to better share responsibility for the world’s refugees and support the communities that host them in a global compact. This included drawing up a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF).

Uganda was the first country that decided to apply the CRRF once the New York Declaration was adopted.

As of December 2017, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is witnessing a sharp rise in the number of people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) seeking safety in Uganda. More than 2,650 refugees have crossed the border during the last week of December alone, fleeing fresh violence in DRC’s Ituri province – this is five times the usual number of arrivals. Most of them again, are women and children. Despite gains in policy and practice in recent years, the capacities and needs of refugee women and girls are too often overlooked in refugee responses. In 2016, 51% of all refugees globally were children. Additionally, according to the New York Declaration, an estimated 9.3 million persons with disabilities are forcibly displaced as the result of persecution, conflict, violence, and other human rights violations. Persons with disabilities are among the most marginalized in any crisis-affected community and are over-represented among those living in poverty. Situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies also impact the access to and the collapse of essential services.

Uganda hosts the largest amount of refugees in all of Africa: over 1.4 MIL.

And Uganda is not receiving enough international support.Many first world countries have used Uganda as a case study and an example of open door policies when it comes refugees, but they ignore the millions of internally displaced people and the basic fact that Uganda's economy is buckling. It is to the point of breaking under the strain of providing for a large population with a shaky GDP and holes in necessary humanitarian aid.

The funding needed to support these refugees is just not there.

Finally, people are starting to take notice, but more needs to be done. This is currently, the largest refugee crisis that the world is facing.

“The situation is no longer sustainable - for the governments of asylum countries, humanitarian agencies...The cycle of violence must be brought to an end.” -UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi

Refugees await transport © UNHCR/Samuel Otieno

Refuge crisis seems to have become a buzz word that people throw around for money, votes or publicity, but it is a very real problem. It also has very real solutions. At KIK, we are putting tangible solutions in place to serve as a working model for the future.

Many of Uganda's own citizens are in terrible situations. At KIK we work primarily with a group of Acholi refugees.  They are the by-product of a war the world forgot about that ended officially in 2006. For 20 years these people endured the harsh conditions of IDP camps (internally displaced persons), eventually making their way to the Banda Acholi Quarters slum area. Now, the government wants that land back as well. They have begun bulldozing homes and forcing people out onto the streets once again. The stress of which has given people heart attacks and caused many deaths.

We are relocating these people to the Place of Refuge Village, but we need your help. This Village will create generational impact, sustainability, and change. The foundation for this venture has been laid steadily for over 12 years.

Working with knowledgeable and reputable architects to begin the design phase of the village, we have purchased the initial 100+ acres, drilled 3 wells, started crop rotations, cleared 20-25 acres, are building a storage facility, 2 pit-latrines, installed 6 safari tents and relocated the foundational families and single men, to begin the project. To make this dream a reality, the estimated cost of the project is $3 million (USD). We plan to raise all of this money through charitable donations given as one-time gifts or recurring payments.

“I hope that we will not forget the fundamental objective of the global compact on refugees – to have a real impact on people’s lives.  This includes citizens of host communities who sacrifice so much to host refugees; as well as refugees so that they can contribute and not be a burden on host communities – so that both refugees and host communities remain strong and resilient in adversity until solutions are found.”  -Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees during High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges.

Nikki Lynn