Children Fleeing Conflict Zones. A tale of Strength and courage.
Story by: Frederick H
Over a stretch of the last two years, the world has found itself battling with a myriad of conflicts. From Europe, to the Middle East, the Far East, and the global South. Every conflict springs from different causes and presents its own dynamics, but the results are always similar. Many innocent souls lose their lives, homes are destroyed, people lose their livelihoods and others are forced out of their homes. In most cases, those who are most vulnerable; children and women, are forced to flee for their safety, beyond the borders of their motherlands. The United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention points to the fact that, many refugees are in exile to escape the effects of natural or human-made disasters. As we gathered our courage on the World Refugee day 2023, let us also continue reflecting on this year’s theme, “home away from home,” in the most empathetic way possible.
I have lived most of my adult life in the global South, particularly Uganda. A country that currently hosts over 1.5 million refugees, as recorded by the UNHCR. With over eight host districts in the country, refugees from different East African countries make the bulk of it. These include DR Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, Rwanda etc. Given that background, it is also important for us to understand that, a refugee is someone who fled his or her home and country owing to “a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion”. This in a way gives us the best pathways towards everlasting solutions.
The end of 2022 saw the escalation of conflicts in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, from different Rebel groups and terrorist attacks from the ADF. As a result, displacing many families. Women were seen carrying their children, children were seen carrying their fellow children and crossing to the Western part of Uganda. With nothing to call food, shelter or home, hunger and pain covered their innocent faces, while a cloud of hopelessness hung over them. The children that carried fellow children had just witnessed their parents being massacred and their homes burnt. A memory imprinted in their brains for a life time. In a twist of events, the soldiers, would be defenders, were also fleeing the same conflict zone. The children were literally on their own, their little hands and legs had to stand for them.
Several kilometres walked, with guns blazing and everyone scampering for safety, one can clearly see how the bright day suddenly turned pitch black. Nevertheless, those that still had life in them had to get to safety. Safety meant crossing the border into Uganda, and being settled in one of the many refugee camps along the Western corridor in Western Uganda. A make shift home for the moment. One can say, the fear of being killed by the gun in the conflict zone was no more for the refugees, but hunger, disease kept around the corner. The change in the circumstances presented a psychological dilemma for both children and women, but at least, they never gave up. Given the several kilometres they covered and the obstacles they encountered.
This never stops here. What then is our responsibility as decent human beings. It is not enough to witness and highlight the challenges that these refugees, young as they are, go through but we must fulfill our obligations and responsibilities towards them as we host them. Regardless of the circumstances, they must be treated with dignity.
It is incumbent upon us a host community, to host these you refugees in decent places. Give them decent shelters, restrooms, warm meals and also medical care. Many are wounded in the process of fleeing, and so immediate health care is their only chance of survival.
Prince Wako Foundation has over years worked with different volunteers to help the girl child in different parts of Uganda. These harnessed volunteer skills are a foundation for helping out with the refugee crisis in different settlements. These skills range from teaching refugees how to integrate into the host community, life skills, language skills etc.
For those who cannot actively participate in different volunteer activities in refugee camps, you can always donate. Prince Wako Foundation, runs a series of projects and volunteer activities throughout the year, aimed at making lives better. One can opt to donate, in support. This can be done by making a donation through our website. In all that we choose to do, let us remember to always provide a conducive environment to make refugees feel at home away from home.