By Yosia Baluku, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, KRC
Palabek Refugee Settlement
Despite Uganda’s globally acclaimed progressive refugee policy that allows refugees the right to work and freedom of movement, there still remains pockets of resource related conflicts affecting refugees and host populations, including competition for land, firewood, water and building materials. 48 percent of refugees live in grim conditions and endure poverty, compared to 17% of the host population (WB, 2019). Settlements like Bidibidi, Rhino and Palabek are located in remote, marginalized & underserved locations of Yumbe, Terego-Madiokolo, and Lamwo Districts.
Against this background, Kabarole Research and Resource Centre alongside consortium partners Women and Rural Development Network (WORUDET and Centre for Economic Social Cultural Rights in Africa (CESCRA) are implementing a project entitled “Advancing peaceful co-existence and respect for human rights in the refugee and host communities of Northern Uganda”. The project aims at increasing the well-being, peaceful, safe, resilient & secure environment for women, girls, youth and families of refugees & host communities realizing their human rights.
Speaking at the inception meeting in Palabek on Thursday 12th August 2021, the OPM Protection Officer welcomed KRC, WORUDET and CESCRA to Palabek and promised maximum support to the project. He called on the partners to embrace coordination with other partners in the settlement and host communities doing related work to avoid duplication but build synergies for better results and success of the project.
In his presentation of the project overview, Mr. MUGARRA David, the Project Coordinator informed participants that the 3-year project will focus on increasing knowledge and local capacities on legal, human rights, peace, resiliency and response to psychosocial stress among refugee and host communities. The project will also document and litigate human rights violations and abuse cases, give more access & use of mediation & local/traditional conflict resolution strategies, strengthen local structures among others. He asked for support from partners and OPM to have this project a success and that any guidance would highly be adhered to.
The local leaders commended KRC and WORUDET for having considered Palabek and the surrounding community and promised maximum support and coordination.
The settlement commandant representative thanked the new partners (KRC, WORUDET & CESCRA) for considering working with Palabek. He also pledged support and challenged the team that results of such programs will only be visible through commitment, collaboration and accountability to government, development partners, citizens and the target population. OPM also promised to allocate zones for the project implementation.
In attendance were the Officer in Charge, Palabek Police Station, representatives from Lutheran World Foundation, International Rescue Committee, OPM, Local leadership and members from both the host and refugee communities. The project has since been launched and introduced in two other settlements Bidibidi and Rhino.