Since their commissioning in 2021, KRC Community Peace Keepers in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement have found their way into the Refugee Welfare Committees s as a result of general elections in the refugee settlement for the Refugee Welfare Councils (RWCs).
During this year’s elections 8 of the 14 Community Peace Keepers of Zone 5 Yangani Cluster were voted into strategic positions on the RWCs, a result largely attributed to capacity building by KRC Uganda.
“…initially only one of us has been in the RWC leadership, but as of now we are 8 people who have taken on various positions and I strongly attribute this to KRC. The selection criteria that were used, the training and mentorship we have gone through and our frequent interaction with the community has created a sense of confidence in the community that we can really lead them…”
“…I have a feeling that we are now better placed to strategically resolve most of the tensions amongst refugees and also between refugees and the host communities. While we were at times compromised by some of our leaders in making certain decisions, we can now ably command respect and guide our people in the right path especially while mediating on certain conflicts within our mandate”
Ocima James the now RWC1 Village 2
Having selected the CPKs, KRC took them through a vigorous and comprehensive training in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Alternative to Violence Prevention (AVP), people to people management, peace building, early warning, mobilization and documentation, Case management and basic Human Rights and the Land Policy. Within the six months of community work, they have registered key milestones by engaging with key actors and supported their communities to access justice; it is no doubt therefore that this confidence, exposure and level of training has been able to see through. Those successfully elected to various positions include;
- Ocima James - RWC 1 Village 2
- Emmanuel Atiku - Secretary for People with Special Needs (PWSN) Village 2
- Betty Yangi -Secretary for Education Village 7
- Minjo David - Secretary for Environment and Production Village 5
- Chandiga Kennedy - General Secretary Village 3
- Driwaru Farida - Secretary for Health and Nutrition
- Hellen Puto - Secretary for Education Village 10
- Khemis Justine Lino - Has been ordained priest under the Anglican Church of Uganda.
On inquiring if their work as peace keepers will not be compromised by the new positions they have taken on in the community, they gave various responses but specifically they all pointed to the fact that Refugee Welfare Committees are not political structures, but that they are now better placed to make binding and pro-people decisions that are within the interest of building peace and social cohesion.
“We have been in this community since 2017 but every time a leadership opportunity would come-up we could not be given chance, now having been picked up by KRC and having been equipped with knowledge and skills to manage various situations we have now come in the limelight and everyone is seeing potential in us. I know we shall surely dominate come next season”
Security such a big presentation of community peace keepers onto the governance structures of refugee welfare will in part contribute to improvement in the management of conflicts involving refugees in Bidibidi and well as successful implementation of the “Advancing Peaceful Co-existence & Respect for Human Rights among Refugees & Host Communities in Northern Uganda” project funded by the European Union.