By Alex Pithua and Cindy Ayebale
KAMPALA AND GULU
(Edited by Paul Kalyesubula)
Pilgrim Center for Reconciliation Uganda Forum in Conjunction with the Netherlands embassy Uganda shall hold the first ever international youth refugee peace and reconciliation Forum in Kampala.
The Country director Pilgrim Center for Reconciliation Uganda https://pilgrimcenterug.org/ Fred Bob Mayonza revealed to Refugee and Migration Media Network (Refugee Online Nws) that the very first reconciliation Forum shall attract 100 representatives of urban refugees from over 15 countries. The forum shall be held at Seguku Worship Center, along Entebbe road on 7th December 2020.
According to Mayonza, the theme of the of the Forum; ‘moving life forward and sustainability of youth refugees in Uganda is aimed at addressing current challenges and pave way for advancement of refugee youth by equipping them with practical approaches for empowerment to fight discrimination and exclusion in various spheres of life sating the conference will also introduce hope ,restoration of relationship and renewing of individuals this revitalization of their communities and nations at large
“In addition the representatives of youth refugees will be reviewing their future outside their native countries” said Mayonza, adding that the forum will be attended by 100 participants who will learn and share best principles and practices pertaining to moving Life forward and Sustainability by experienced panelists.
“To introduce participants to various aspects of reconciliation the first events are highly experiential and interactive. Our skilled facilitators are prepared to integrate the ministry of reconciliation into people’s daily lives.” Mayonza explains.
Uganda is home to 1,223,003 million refugees as of February 2019. Of these 4% are urban refugees in Kampala metropolitan area while the rest live in refugee settlements. Upcountry cities like Gulu and others also host huge numbers of urban refugees: making Uganda the third highest hosting country in the world. https://reliefweb.int/report/uganda/unhcr-uganda-resettlement-factsheet-2019-28-February
The Panelist are;
H.E Karin Boven, the Incoming Ambassador of the Netherlands to Uganda. Enjoy your stay in the Pearl of Africa Mayonza Bob Fred Country Director Pilgrim Center for Reconciliation Uganda Gloria Laker Aciro, a Ugandan award winning journalist and Director of Peace Journalism Foundation. Gloria covered the 2 decades Lord’s Resistance Army LRA conflict in northern Uganda and currently coordinates the Uganda Refugee Online News project of Refugee Media and Migration, Bolingo Ntahira is Chairman of refugee led organization network and Noella Kabale Kalu is Congolese national and founder of REAL Uganda Entrepreneur. African feminist 2019 cohort under the Uganda African Women leadership Institute AWLI 2020 cohort Peace Mediator under Women International Peace Center, Moses Okwalinga Head of Litigation at the Uganda Law Society and head Legal Aid Project . Apostle Steven Mayanja the founder of UCOM and African development for World Outreach Ministry Foundation. Mr James Foster Country Director – International Justice Mission.
Currently Gulu city hosts 2800 urban refugee who are yearning for the message of building up on peace and reconciliation to rebuild their shattered lives, households and communities. Similarly, urban youth refugees in Kampala, Arua and Gulu welcomed the initiative.
Gulu city Resident District Commissioner, Major Santos Okot Lapolo said that an initiative to pursue peace and reconciliation by targeting youth refugees is an innovative milestone to be explored by organizations supporting refugees.
Despite the fact that refugees come from countries of different religions Uganda has provided freedom of worship.
“The biggest challenge with refugees is that they come from different societies including Catholics, Protestants and Muslim, traditionalists while others are pagans. Despite of the religious differences Uganda has, through freedom of worship, fostered unity and co-existence of refugees amidst religious diversity”. Major Santos explains one of the innovative elements of Uganda’s model refugee integration policy-freedom of worship to harmonize religious differences.
“We have different religious activities going on here and people are free to choose whatever they want to associate with. I am calling upon the religious organizations to take interest in refugees and work to reform their mindset”, Santos appealed to churches and religious organizations to integrate refugees into their ministry and community outreach.
“Considering the traumatic experiences some have been subjected to, refugees have psychological problems. While as physical security is being provided by the state; emotional settlement and stability is a long way to go hence religious organizations must step in.”
Uganda hosts a big refugee community from across the great lakes region because of the relative stability the country has enjoyed including Sudanese, Congolese, Eritreans, Rwandese and Somalis.
Ugandan peace journalist and director of Peace Journalism Foundation Gloria Laker Aciro is one of the panelists at the event. Ms. Laker who also coordintes the Uganda Refugee and Migration Media Networhttps://refugeeandmigrationmedia.org/ t k applauded the Pilgrim Center for the peace and reconciliation forum; saying that such initiatives lay a foundation for peace and unity among refugees and contribute to achieving peace back in their countries of origin. “a peace-loving and reconciled community of refugees forms a strong pillar for attaining peace back home,” Laker expresses optimism that the conference will build a critical mass with attitudes and best practices to re-stabilize their native lands.
Elias Kiflemaram, a 33-year-old Eritrean refugee who moved to Gulu in 2014 welcomed the idea of promoting peace and reconciliation through the gospel. “I am an orthodox Christian, I love the idea of convening reconciliation programme since it embraces people of different religious affiliations.”
Yuthful Keji Rabbeca from South Sudanese says preparing refugee youths through peace and reconciliation is a healing process for a productive segment of young refugees. She appealed to the Pilgrim center for reconciliation to consider holding the event in other refugee settlements. “Let the Pilgrim Center reach out to refugee settlements and other urban centers like Gulu city. We the South Sudanese are in need of peace and reconciliation,” Said Keji. Alice Dudu, a Ugandan, concurred with Keji’s proposition on the need to preach peace and reconciliation to youth.
Ocaya Reagan still has memories of the agony the people of northern Uganda went through during the LRA insurgency and underscores the impact of war on young people hence the need to counsel them. “Looking at this initiative of pilgrim center the uniqueness is plausible”.
He added that most organizations look at financial handouts as an approach to empower youths yet integrating spiritual rehabilitation has immense potential to transform them holistically! “I am hopeful that this initiative of building people spiritually is a strategic intervention since youth go through difficult situations that spiritual counselling will enable them to navigate through whilst modelling them into productive people.”
Reagan concludes that, “Once the youth have been brought up in a peaceful manner, they will carry the same values of tranquility back to their home areas and spread the gospel of reconciliation to usher in peaceful communities”.
Despite continued support to refugees, areas such as healing has always not been taken into consideration by many humanitarian organizations yet the refugee youth who are often exposed to violence and emotional distress need spiritual and counseling support from organizations like Pilgrim Center for Reconciliation Uganda.
This article was produced by Uganda Refugees and Migration Media Network and its (Refugee Online News) Email; firstname.lastname@example.org