Caritas Uganda in partnership with Caritas Norway celebrated a belated 108th World Day of Migrants and Refugees in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement, in Yumbe, Uganda. Bidibidi is one of the refugee settlements gazetted by the government of Uganda in 2016 to host refugees mainly from South Sudan. It hosts a 224,048 refugee population as of July 2022.
The event took place on 26th October 2022 under the theme “Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees” as chosen by the Holy Father, Pope Francis. The celebration started with a Holy Eucharist led by Msgr. Dr. Francis Ndamira, the National Director of Caritas Uganda as the main celebrant.
Different speakers at the event made their remarks within the context of the theme while appreciating and recognizing the great contributions and opportunities the migrants have offered to Uganda as the host country.
Msgr. Ndamira stated that those taught in food production should use the land available and cultivate in plenty especially in good seasons and should learn how to store food for 12 months. That is the only way to curb food insecurity at household level and at the community. Human beings are fully fulfilled and dignified when they produce food and feel happy and enjoy eating what they produce, just like God did in Genesis: he worked and was happy with his product. Msgr. Ndamira commended the Uganda government for creating and availing a conducive peaceful environment to support refugees and the host communities. He called on the Office of the Prime Minister to continue dialoguing with the landlords for more land to be made available to the refugees. As we cultivate, we should use climate smart technologies, it was also stressed.
Joel Michael Nabugere, the settlement commandant for Bidibidi, appealed to the refugees to practice the skills to produce food and venture into businesses as the World Food Programme has reduced food ration. He said the food ration and support to refugees will continue to reduce as the wars across the world continue stressing the donors.
Fr. Adreas, from the Divine Word Missionaries, advised the congregation to pray every day for one another so that they are witnesses of love and mercy. He asked: “What will the refugees be if they only receive clothes and food?” “Caritas prepares us to be ready every time to share our views and talents and provide for ourselves”, he said.
In celebrating the human capital development, a total of 1,053 adolescent girls and young women graduated in different relevant skills of: numeracy and literacy; shoe and sandal making skills; soap and chalk making skills.
In celebrating socio-economic development, the migrants and refugees supported by Caritas Uganda exhibited agricultural products like beans, vegetables, cassava, chicken; and non-agricultural products such as shoes, chalk and soap. The impact of these interventions was testimony of increased income, acquisition of basic household needs, food and nutrition security, psychosocial and mental calm due to acceptance of each other in different production groups.
In celebrating culture, games and sports, there were drama, music, dance and football matches. The refugees were excited to perform and exhibit their talents and passed messages of peace, freedom, struggle against gender based violence and child protection.
Among the key guests who turned up for the 108th WDMR were UNHCR and Local Government representatives, and other implementing partners in Bidibidi Settlement.
Ms. Hellen Chanikare
National Programme Coordinator of Caritas Uganda