‘Unlocking Food for Refugees in the Lockdown’.

By Gloria Laker Aciro



Uganda, like the rest of the world, is battling with the impact of the second wave of the Coronavirus disease.  In such a time of crises, vulnerable groups like refugees and the needy are most affected. 

Some nongovernmental organisations like Pilgrim Center for Reconciliation (PCR), a non-denominational organization in Uganda came to the rescue of many refugees to afford to put food on their tables during the June-July 42 days government imposed lockdown. Over 400 refugees were lucky to have received relief food from the Center. 

“Thanks to our partners in the first batch, we were able to reach out to a total of 400 people during the 42 days of lockdown. So relief food distribution in refugee settlements in Uganda is on, we distributed posho [corn meal and beans,” Mayonza Bob Fred, the PCR Country Director in Uganda told Refugee Online News. 

Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on June 18th announced 42 days of lockdown which saw a ban on transport and cross district movement, closure of schools and places of worships among others.

The lockdown saw thousands of people relocating to rural Uganda for fear of starvation and inability to pay house rent because of closure of their businesses, major sources of livelihood. However, a section of people remained in the urban centres especially the urban refugees and poor Ugandans who could not have a village or ancestral land to relocate to within Uganda. 

With their businesses closed, all their hopes were lost and therefore PCR relief support comes at the right time.

According to Mayonza, among those that benefitted in the first round of food distribution were the Somali refugees living in KIsenyi, a slum area within Kampala city.

“We supplied to the rag-tagged communities,” Said Mr. Mayonza. Urban refugees are not always planned for under government relief aid programmes to refugees or citizens hence they have to fend for themselves even during a crisis like is the case with the covid-19 pandemic. 

Mr. Mayonza explains that whenever funds are available, they plan to support child headed families and other vulnerable refugees with especially food. 

“We wait for more support to help the people get the food relief and one of our main focus for the next batch will be child headed families,” he said. 

The Pilgrim Center for Reconciliation has been at the forefront in supporting vulnerable groups such as refugees in Uganda.  To create impact and reach the intended beneficiaries, PCR usually starts with assessment visits to these communities and later support is offered to them depending on their need.

  “Occasionally Pilgrim Center reaches out to vulnerable children and families  in refugee settlements and in the urban areas to find out their most urgent needs,” Mayonza

Despite President Museveni’s lifting of the lockdown on Friday 30th July, vulnerable groups like urban refugees and poor Ugandans are still in dire need of relief food given that majority of them had to close their source of livelihood during the lockdown. 

Most urban refugees who had businesses say it will take them time to reestablish and have enough stock to sustain their livelihoods. 

Edited by Irene Abalo Otto

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