Friday, March 16, 2012


I'm minutes back from Karamoja (literally!) but this thing is weighing heavily on my mind and I want to make you aware. 
The Ugandan government has declared they are going to “resettle” roughly 7,000 Karamojung who have migrated to Kampala and other big cities. There will be a “swoop” in the near future where the police will go through the capital and arrest all the beggers and people living on the streets who are k-jung. Those will be added to the roughly 3,000 k-jung street children who are in jail right now and all packed on cattle cars and moved to a remote site where they can start a new village. If you haven’t already caught my extreme distain for this idea, know this- the majority of those being resettled are widows, prostitutes and children. They fled Karamoja for a variety of reasons- the top two being starvation and conflict and they had hope that working the streets would be safer and fill their bellies. They own practically nothing. Most will have a blanket tied around their shoulders (this is their bed) and some will carry a bottle with a bit of water in it. The places that they are squatting, most likely will be burned down to “encourage” them to agree to the resettlement and not have a reason to come back. They will be transported hours from the cities and then unloaded in a place where there is bore hole. That’s it. Nothing else as far as the eye can see. They will be expected to build homes and start over. There are a few things I’d like to point out to those that think this idea is good, but I can’t bring it up to them so I’ll have to tell you instead: CLIDE suspects that the well will support about 2,000 people. The women and children don’t necessarily go together. (Meaning the prostitutes probably left their children in the village they ran away from and most of the street children are orphans. So just because there is a large collection of women and children it doesn’t mean they are related.) The few men who will be relocated are drunkards or mentally ill. The government has no intention of providing anything besides transportation and land for these people. So that is where I’ve entered this story. The government has announced they are going to do this and sent a letter to 20 key NGOs in the area. The letter, roughly translated, says. “We’re going to resettle these people around March 20th. What are you going to do for them?” CLIDE, as one who has had good success with the peace villages and who is working within 20 km of the new camp location, has received one of these letters. There have been some big key players who received letters also, like UN (UNICEF and UNWFP mostly) and IRC who will dump money on to the issue but it is the little NGOs in the area like CLIDE who will actually be hands and feet on the ground dealing with the huge problems. And these little NGOs are at present few and thinly spread. CLIDE was already feeling maxed out and now are scrambling to sort out their role in this possible humanitarian crisis. Can you please pray? The people being resettled have been through much already. Many have lost husbands, sons, and fathers to raiding. Some of these children have been trafficked to work on the streets and are being very abruptly relocated without their bigger problems being addressed. Everyone will need tools to start working in fields, seeds, food, blankets, cooking pots, mosquito nets, medical treatment, counseling, education… (and I’m not even listing off the things that we could consider essential that they don’t- like beds and mattresses, tents, plates, forks, soap, toilet paper, the list goes on and on!) Please pray also for the CLIDE staff who knows that God has given them the roles that they fill and as busy as they already are, they won’t turn away from this need. And pray also for me. I’ve agreed to continue to partner with CLIDE and provide medical treatment in this new camp. We will be working with people who see life as hopeless and depressing, who’ve had one bad break after another. We will be in position to give hope but the tasks seem prodigious and engulfing. 

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