Ssekandi LAMWO, Uganda (Xinhua) -- It was a normal
day at Pajok Primary School. The head teacher had just finished
briefing the pupils during the morning assembly.
At the neighbouring Ayela Primary
School, it was the same routine until hell broke loose.
Gunfire started and children were asked to run home.
Several of them, according to Joseph Okumu, the head
teacher of Ayela Primary School, were killed.
Okumu rushed home to rescue his
children and wife but did not find them. Only his 76
year-old-mother was left in the house.
Okumu quickly gathered what he could
and rode his bicycle carrying with his mother for about
15 km to the neighbouring northern Ugandan district of
This was another cycle of movement
sparked off by continued fighting between government
troops and rebels in South Sudan.
The attack on Pajok about two weeks
sparked the relocation of over 5,000 South Sudanese to
Uganda fleeing for safety. Most of them, according to
the UN Refugee Agency, are women and children.
As the world focused its attention on
war in Syria, the children in this part of the world
continue to ponder where their future will be.
Okumu’s wish is for his two daughters,
who he later found in Uganda after they fled with their
mother, to continue schooling.
(Xinhua) -- South Sudan refugee
children share a meal at Uganda’s newly opened Palabek
Refugee Settlement in the northern part of the country,
April 13, 2016. Fighting that occurred about two weeks
ago between government troops and the rebels forced over
5,000 South Sudanese to flee to the northern Ugandan
district of Lamwo. Uganda has called for international
assistance to help cater for the increasing number of
South Sudan refugees.
XINHUA PHOTOS: RONALD
He said while his future might be
ruined, at least that of his children should be guaranteed
At Ngomoromo refugee reception center
here in Lamwo, hundreds of children have been relocated to
another refugee settlement over 50 km away from the border.
Aid agencies argue that that the
reception center is overcrowded, which may cause health hazards.
“They are not in the best of
conditions, many children are malnourished, there are
pregnant mothers who need help,” Joy Bamutya, a refugee
officer told Xinhua.
South Sudan has plunged into fighting
since late 2013 between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and
his then deputy Riek Machar.
The UN said it needs urgent help to
provide humanitarian relief not only to the victims of the Pajok
attack but also the other South Sudanese who have fled fighting.
UN figures show that of the over 1.5 million South Sudanese who
have fled fighting, over 800,000 are in Uganda.
Many of the refugees occupy Bidi Bidi
Refugee Settlement in northwestern Uganda. It is now ranked the
largest settlement in the world, according to UNHCR.
“Uganda has turned out to be the
biggest refugee host country in Africa with over 1.3 million
refugees. Uganda needs support and this operation is
critically underfunded,” Wellington Carneiro, Field Officer
UNHCR Lamwo, told Xinhua.
Uganda, which is globally acclaimed to
having an open refugee policy, has said it is at the brink of
breakdown as it can no longer handle the influx of the thousands
of South Sudanese entering its border.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on
Tuesday met the visiting South Sudan First Vice President Taban
According to a statement the president
issued on his social media platforms, the meeting among others
discussed restoration of peace in South Sudan.
“I call upon all people of South Sudan
to refrain from violence. The only politically viable way is
peace and dialogue to achieve development,” Museveni wrote.
The meeting came almost a week after
Museveni met some of South Sudan’s leaders in opposition.
Apart from the bilateral efforts to
restore peace in the world’s youngest nation, there have been
regional efforts although they are yet to yield fruits.
Aid workers argue that what is most
needed is restoration of peace to stop the influx of refugees in
the face of dwindling international funds to support them.