UNHCR Coordinated Refugee Elections in Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement, Uganda Exemplified and Championed Genuine Democracy
Transparent elections sponsored, monitored and supervised by UNHCR were successfully conducted and concluded.
Holding UNHCR Ration Card is the minimal eligibility to cast a vote. Different Communities brought in the person they thought fits for the top job.
Iddi Joseph, a Kenyan National, Obama Anthony and Odie Alfred Ugandans from Acholi tribe, Malow Rieth, Ruon Machar and Manyok Duot South Sudanese Nationals are the candidates who competed for the post and Manyok Duot merged the people’s choice and won with majority votes.
Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement, Uganda established around 1992. It is roughly three to four hour drive North from Kampala Uganda Capital City.
The Camp since its establishment settles approximately tens of thousands refugees from different neighboring countries of South Sudan, (Sudan), Kenya, DRC and Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs mostly Northerners, the victims of Uganda Lord Resistance Army, LRA Insurgence under Notorious fugitive Joseph Kony.
The number of incoming refugees was gradually decreasing in the previous years; first due to the inking of 2005 Naivasha hosted Comprehensive Peace Agreement, CPA between the Khartoum based Sudanese Government of National Salvation and the then Sudan armed Opposition; the Sudan People Liberation Moment/Army, SPLM/A, which allowed many South Sudanese to trek and retreat home.
Second reason for its spare influx is its inaccessibility to all Uganda neighboring Countries in a sense that it’s costly to UN agency, the UNHCR in terms of transporting the refugees to the site.
However, due to December 2013 South Sudanese Political Unrest, the influx is believed to have increased ten folds with refugees of South Sudan Nationals pouring in from both Kampala, and directly from South Sudan making the number of South Sudanese in the Camp the biggest.
In 2013, the UNHCR staggered with the shelters facilitation, accommodation and provision of food and could not mobilize enough finance to renovate the few old schools for school goers. Only few quarters of primary kids managed to attend schools and all High School students did not make it to school altogether.
At least in 2014 there are enough primary schools renovated by UNICEF and UNHCR for every child to attain education at. However, the Secondary Schools are reportedly to be inadequate or completely missing up to now and a big number of young, mostly South Sudanese girls and boys who are supposed to be busy at schools are eventually getting wasted under unpleasant drugs like alcohol as a result of idleness.
The Kiryandongo based refugees are also facing another serious problem which is raising health concerns. The Camp Site is heavily infested with Chiggers (jigger flea) also known as harvest mite or Redbug; the six-legged larvae of the family Trombiculidae, parasitic on humans which affect mostly school children due to poor sanitation and hygiene in the surrounding environment.
“The parasites prevent children from attending classes especially during rainy seasons as it attacks them on toes and they are not able to foot to distant schools.” A concerned parent of seven reveals to Nyamilepedia team.
Many refugees say the parasites attack escalates because of inadequate footwear as majority of refugees can hardly afford a pair of sandals or two for their children.
These and many more other problems are the issues their democratically elected Chairperson, Mr. Manyok Duot who won with majority votes is hoping to voice to the UNHCR and other Humanitarian Agency which are responsible to their welfares.
Despite the daunting challenges, the South Sudanese are trying to keep their unity intact in the foreign land and hope they will one day in time be able to return home. “We are victims and there is no point to justify hatred among ourselves.” An elderly man told Nyamilepedia Press Team while queuing to cast his vote.