Action Africa Help International had several reasons to take part in the World Refugee Day on June 20th, 2012. AAH Uganda and Zambia joined the global community in remembrance and respect of the disadvantaged persons who have been displaced from their countries of origin (refugees) due to war and conflict.
With the theme “1 family torn apart by war is too many”, AAH Uganda Programme in partnership with the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), UNHCR and other implementing partners organized celebrations at Kasonga Grounds in Kyangwali Sub-County, Hoima District, Western Uganda.
Various activities were organized to spice up the day including a football match between Sudanese and Congolese refugees, a basketball match, bicycle race, songs, traditional cultural dances and a fashion show. Winners of the various activities were awarded mattresses and blankets and other needed items.
The guest of honor, Mr. Osakan Solomon,the Refugee Desk Officer (RDO) Hoima District from the Office of the Prime Minister told celebrants that the Ugandan Government is committed to supporting the protection of refugees. “For all people seeking refuge, Uganda is committed to giving them a home away from home.” he said
Nobert Anyidi, the Gender & Capacity Building Officer and Head of Community Services in the Kyangwali refugee settlement gave a speech on behalf of AAH Uganda and took the opportunity to recognize the good support accorded to AAH from the Office of the Prime Minister,UNHCR for continued funding in support of refugee operations, and all refugees for showing strength and resilience in difficult times away from their countries of birth. Anyidi also extended appreciation to the general public, the host community and service providers for the support extended towards addressing the challenge of displacement among the refugee communities. “You indeed have played an important role in restoring hope as well as enabling refugees to find a home to settle and move on with their lives.” He said.
The refuge settlement in Kyangwali is host to over 25,000 refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya and Somalia. In this area AHH Uganda has taken lead in providing support to the refugee community to sustainably improve their standard of living through community empowerment approaches.
AAH Zambia participated in the celebrations as well. The World Refugee Day in Lusaka, Zambia, was characterised by speeches by the guest of honour, the UNHCR Country Representative, and refugee representative. The Deputy Minister delivered a landmark speech, in which he announced that the Government of the Republic of Zambia had decided to consider implementing local integration of refugees who met a certain criteria, as a durable solution to the refugee problem. This decision was very warmly received by refugees, as the Zambian government had, for a long time been very reluctant to allow local integration.
Other activities to commemorate the day were traditional dances by refugee groups, performance by an Acrobat/juggler, and HIV/AIDS sensitisation by AAH staff.
The Country Representative’s speech was centered on thanking the Zambian government for its long history of warm hospitality towards refugees from neighbouring countries. She went on to acknowledge the positive contributions refugees make to the social, cultural and economic development of the host communities.
The Refugee representative also added her voice by thanking the government of Zambia for their warm hospitality to refugees. She further went on to highlight the challenges of life as a refugee, including legal and economic barriers to personal development.