KRC Uganda in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement, Yumbe District

Yosia Baluku,Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Peace Program, KRC Uganda.

Bidibidi Refugee Settlement evolved from a small village in 2016 to become the second largest refugee camp in the world, mainly hosting a large number of asylum seekers and refugees fleeing civil unrest in South Sudan.

Bidibidi Refugee Settlement covers 250 square kilometres of the eastern half of Yumbe District, stretching southward from the South Sudanese border and spilling over into Moyo District along the western bank of the Kochi River. By Uganda’s standards, the settlement is as large as a district administrative unit.

By January 2021, according to office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Bidibidi had a total population of 233,959 refugees with 233,864 from South Sudan, 92 from the Republic of Sudan, 2 DRC and 1 from Congo Republic. Women and children comprise 85% of this total population.

In July 2021, KRC Uganda moved to Northern Uganda to contribute humanitarian and protection assistance to refugees and host communities, to prevent emergence and escalation of intra conflicts amongst the diverse communities there. KRC is implementing a joint project with the Women Rural Development Network (WORUDET) and the Centre for Economic Social Cultural Rights in Africa (CESCRA) in Bidibidi, Palabek and Rhino Refugee Settlements respectively, entitled “Advancing Peaceful Co-existence & Respect for Human Rights among Refugees & Host Communities in Northern Uganda”.

Cases of conflict and scramble for the limited resources like land, water, firewood, continue to trigger internal conflict. Gender based violence, irresponsible grazing by both refugees and host community, different cultural beliefs, ignorance of laws that guide management of such human rights issues define the conflict landscape in Bidibidi Settlement. In order to contribute greater impact in this area, KRC Uganda has since recruited community peace keepers (paralegals) to help in the management and mitigation of conflict in the refugee and host communities of Bidibidi. These are comprised of the inhabitants of Yumbe but also the refugees to manage their own challenges since these are trusted by the communities. A number of trainings and mentorships have been given to them on conflict sensitivity, human rights, land among others. Leaders have also been trained on the same issues and a number of awareness radio talk shows are conducted to discuss solutions to the conflict issues.

The peace keepers are already using the knowledge acquired from the trainings in conflict management.

Batali Amos Khamis, one of the peace keepers recently resolved a conflict that arose from a neighbour’s goat destroying a garden of sorghum of one Velentino Lubari in Yangani. The two parties came into consensus when the perpetrator asked for forgiveness and promised never to irresponsibly graze but live harmoniously with his neighbours.

Another peace keeper, Lomoro Emmanuel, has since settled two neighbours Joyce Nyoka, 30 and Betty Kiden 45, a PWD, that have lived with protracted misunderstandings brought about by their children. Betty as a parent involves herself in the fights of their children and supports her children while fighting with those of Nyoka, including throwing her walking stick at the children of her neighbour whenever they fight. Nyoka’s children accuse Betty for witchcraft among other accusations. A community meeting was organised by the peace keeper and the two were advised to support and guide their children live harmoniously with each other and not supporting their wrong deeds but also forgive each other and move on. This conflict was resolved, follow ups have been made since, and there has not been any more misunderstandings between the two families.

Photo: Lomar Emmanuel-Peace keeper writing- moderating a conflict harmonisation session

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