World Vision Uganda
article • Friday, September 22nd 2017

Irish Parliamentarians concerned about level of need inside Uganda refugee settlements

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From Left, World Vision operations manager Benson Okabo talks to Senator Neale Richmond, Simon Murtagh (Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa), Kathleen Funchion (Congress), Amos (South Sudanese refugee), James Lawless (Congress)

‘’The amount of need inside these refugee settlements is so overwhelming. The world must do more to alleviate the suffering of these people.’’ Those were the words of Senator Neale Richmond from Ireland during his visit to Omugo refugee settlement in northern Uganda.

Senator Neale Richmond is a member of ‘Fine Gael’; a governing liberal-conservative political party in Ireland and its spokesperson to the European Union.  Three other Irish parliamentarians, plus a top official from Irish Aid, took part in the two-day visit organized by World Vision.

The team interacted with refugees and host communities at Omugo, Imvepi and Bidbidbi refugee settlements in northern Uganda.

A majority of the new arrivals at Omugo refugee settlement narrated painful ordeals of having walked for weeks to reach Uganda, plus the hardships they are currently experiencing.

‘’What we’ve seen is unbelievable. These people lack so many basic things. They need better shelters, good health care and sufficient food. We will do our best to let the world know about it and urge for more support,’’ noted James Lawless, a member of congress for Kildare North constituency in Ireland.

According to UNHCR’s August 2017 funding update for the South Sudan refugee crisis, the Irish government has contributed USD$669,189 to the humanitarian appeal in Uganda. However, the appeal still has an overall funding gap of USD$373.1M

In his remarks about the contribution of humanitarian workers on ground, Senator Richmond applauded World Vision staff saying he was impressed by their dedication.

“I was very impressed by their commitment and passion. I was touched by the way they treat refugees with dignity and respect,” remarked Senator Neale Richmond. Other members of the delegation echoed the same feeling.

The Irish delegation also visited some of World Vision’s emergency response interventions funded by Irish Aid at Bidibidi refugee settlement. Among the projects inspected were drainable VIP latrine stances, boreholes plus interventions in household latrines.

Alison Milton, the Irish Aid Senior Development specialist at the Department of Foreign Affairs expressed gratitude that more than 46,000 people comprising of refugees and host communities are now able to access clean and safe drinking water, proper sanitation and hygiene.

In July 2016, World Vision Uganda obtained funding of US $121,000 from Irish Aid, to implement an 8-months inclusive water, sanitation and hygiene project at Bidibidi refugee settlement. The goal of the project was to improve health and dignity among South Sudanese Refugees/ host communities at Bidibidi refugee settlement through increased access to safe drinking water, improved sanitation and hygiene practices.

 Below are some of the achievements that the project accomplished:

5 boreholes constructed, reaching out to 2,500 people. Two are in the host community, 3 in refugee reception centers serving mainly new arrivals

256 temporary communal latrine stances constructed, reaching 6,400 refugees. During the onset of the emergency, communal latrines were constructed to meet population demand at the time of the influx.

5 blocks of 5 stance VIP drainable latrines constructed, reaching 5,131 children in educational institutions

1,060 households supported with latrine digging kits (spade, wheel barrow, peak axe, 3m string and a metallic bucket.). 700 households had dug their own latrines by close of project

425 Households (2,125 people) supported with sanitation kits (plastic slabs and treated poles)

128 communal handwashing facilities distributed

400 households received 5-litre jerry cans to set up handwashing facilities (tippy taps)

128 bathing shelters constructed for new arrivals at Bidibidi

128 Jerry cans of liquid soap, 128 hard brushes and 128 buckets allocated to 3 schools and health centers

Hired, trained and equipped 8 hygiene promoters

500 water storage containers procured and distributed to 500 targeted households in Bidi Bidi settlement.

100 cartons of chlorine tablets procured by the project and handed over to UNHCR. This made part of the contingency stock for UNHCR as all the water being supplied through water trucking was already chlorinated.

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