Ssekandi ADJUMANI, Uganda (Xinhua) --
When fighting started
in South Sudan on July 7, Richard Odego fled to Uganda
leaving behind all his assets. All he wanted to do is to
save his life and family from the raging war.
Without any border restrictions, Odego crossed into
Uganda and is now at Nyumanzi Transit Center waiting to
be resettled in a refugee camp.
Like thousands of refugees in Uganda, Odego will be
resettled on a piece of land which he will cultivate
food instead of entirely depending on relief aid.
It is this open refugee policy that the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says
should be used as a model of refugee management across
Hilary Onek, Uganda’s minister for refugees and
disaster preparedness, while on a visit with the UNHCR
head Filippo Grandi here earlier this week at one of the
camps hosting South Sudanese refugees in northern
Uganda, said the policy has been remodeled.
Onek said Uganda, supported by the UN and other donor
agencies, has started a project dubbed Refugee and Host
Population Empowerment (ReHoPE).
The five-year 350 million U.S. dollar project aims at
empowering refugees to become self-reliant and reduce
their dependence on humanitarian.
Onek said refugees have assets, skills and
capabilities that can be tapped to support themselves,
and later on, transferred to their countries of origin
when they return home.
"We want to turn this human resource into a
"When they become productive and even start earning
money that will reflect on our economy," he said.
He said the refugees will engage in a number of
livelihood strategies, both in agricultural and non-
agricultural sectors, in bid for them to be
The refugees will be clustered in one area, and the
rest of the land will be opened up for mechanized
The refugees would then share the proceeds from the
As funding to humanitarian efforts dwindle, experts
argue that Uganda’s approach would be one of the key
alternatives to adopt in refugee management and response
in the longer term.
Grandi said learning from Uganda, there are global
discussions on how to integrate humanitarian emergency
response with long-term development, for the benefit of
not only refugees but also their host communities.
He said the ReHoPE project is viable but needs
He said urged the rich countries to also give equal
attention to humanitarian crises in Africa and other
less developed places.
He said most of the rich countries focus on high
profile crises and those near their boundaries.
Grandi said he will front Uganda’s refugee policy at
the forthcoming UN meeting on refugees and migrants
scheduled later this month.
At the end of last year, Uganda was the
eighth-largest refugee hosting country in the world.
The country hosts over 560,000 refugees and asylum
seekers, according to UNHCR figures.
Already in 2016, it has received an estimated 163,000
new arrivals fleeing from war and human rights
violations in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of
Congo, Burundi and elsewhere.
Uganda dreams of
beating 38-year Africa Cup of Nations jinx
KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) --
Geoffrey Massa wakes up every
morning to light exercises before joining the rest of
the team in the afternoon for general training.
Under the scorching sun, the young lads sweat
profusely but their coach, Serbian born Milutin
Sredojevic, shouts ‘Harder’ reminding them that the team
has to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon)
after a 38-year jinx.
The last time Uganda appeared at the continent’s
biggest football showpiece was in 1978 in Ghana when
they lost to the hosts during the final.
Uganda will have another chance to try and solve the
puzzle if they can conjure up a positive result against
visiting Comoros on Sept. 4.
The game will also have lots of meaning as Uganda are
the only team in the east and central African region
with a chance of making it to the 2017 Afcon competition
"This is the time we should prove a point and make
history," Massa, who is the captain of the team told
Xinhua shortly after training.
All that the team needs in this Afcon qualifier is a
win in its Group D tie and hope that Group leaders
Burkina Faso can draw against Botswana.
A win for Burkina Faso and a win for Uganda could
also still see coach Sredojevic’s team qualify for being
among the best two second placed teams.
"That match looks easy but it is a very difficult
game because it will put players and fans under
pressure," Tom Lwanga, who was part of the Cranes team
that appeared in the 1978 Afcon event, told Xinhua.
The former defender noted that winning against
Comoros will need a lot of motivation on and off the
"Some of us are very eager to see the national team
qualify again when we are still alive," said
ex-goalkeeper Paul Ssali who guided Uganda to the 1978
The country’s football federation has already
earmarked a cash reward of 10,000 U.S. dollars per
player if the team qualifies.
"We have put in place a motivating aspect with every
member of the squad to get 10,000 dollars if they
qualify for the tournament," said Uganda FA Chief
Executive Officer Edgar Watson.
After two wins against Botswana and another away to
Comoros together with a draw against Burkina Faso,
Uganda has what it takes to book a ticket to Gabon for
the 2017 Afcon.
The likes of Tony Mawejje, Massa, Godfrey Walusimbi,
Emmanuel Okwi and goalkeepers Denis Onyango and Robert
Odonkara will be expected to use their experience to
push the team which has previously missed out narrowly
to qualify on two occasions.
With Uganda chasing a place in the 2017 Afcon, the
teams that have already qualified include Algeria,
Morocco, Mali, Guinea Bissau, Egypt, Ghana, Senegal,
Zimbabwe and Cameroon.