Conflict and natural disasters have
created many internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees in Africa. In October, the African Union will hold a
summit in Uganda on developing a unified policy to deal with humanitarian
crises – something called the Kampala Convention.
of people were displaced in northern Uganda by the long war between the
government and LRA rebels, led by Joseph Kony.
Tarsis Kabwegyere is Uganda's minister of relief and disaster preparedness and
refugees and a former refugee himself. From
Kampala, he says helping those forced from their homes is a huge problem for
figure is such a big thing. You know, we
are talking (about) over 17 million people affected by displacement of one kind
or another – natural and man-made. And
this is a lot of people to be in misery," he says.
Where to start?
hit it hard head on because Uganda had a tradition of handling refugees. We have hadrefugees from Congo…Sudan…Rwanda
and recently refugees from Kenya. And we
also had our own internal problems arising out of the Kony rebellion," he
minister says as a result, Uganda has developed "outstanding" policies for
dealing with refugees and IDPs, eventually resettling them back home.
refugees are not in the camps. They are
in settlements and they are able to raise their food. In some cases, they are able to produce more
food than even the local population around them," he says.
Settlements better than refugee camps
life is so miserable and especially when it's long term. For example, you see Congolese who have been
here for more than 30 years, 40 years.
If they were in the camps, they would have been miserable," he says.
also says those given shelter in Uganda also have access to a number of
services, including education.
of the current leaders in Uganda experienced refugee status…. So, we have tended to be more humane than
other countries," Kabwegyere says.
solving humanitarian issues also involves dealing with the causes, such as
political turmoil and conflict.
example, we now have about 50,000 Congolese in Uganda. We don't know how soon the situation will be
changed. So when people can produce
their own food and are complimented with humanitarian assistance, you have some
semblance of normal life," he says.
An African solution to an African problem
why there's this special summit, because now the objectives are very, very
clear. Identify ways of preventing
forced displacement. Improve the
protection of victims of forced displacement.
Strengthen measures to meet specific needs of displaced women and
children…. And devise strategies to
reduce the impact of natural disasters," he says.
example, meteorologists have predicted a return of El Nino weather patterns
this year, which could trigger flood or drought conditions in Africa.
says African nations also need to strengthen partnerships with the
The AU summit on internally displaced
people and refugees will be held in Kampala from October 19th
through the 23rd.