THE BLOG

Those Who Say The Refugee Crisis Is Not Our Problem, Are The Problem

26/06/2017 16:56
World Vision

This time last month I returned from a beautiful part of the world. A continent I have been in love with since my early twenties when I lived there. At that time, it was Zimbabwe. This time, the wonderful people at World Vision, whom I do a little work for, asked me to go to Northern Uganda and visit a place called Bidi Bidi. 

There I discovered the largest refugee camp on the planet. Two-hundred-and-eighty-thousand South Sudanese refugees who've had to flee extraordinary violence live there. That's the population of Newark in New Jersey, or Nottingham in the United Kingdom.

A year ago, Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement didn't even exist. Last month, it was full. New camps have been hastily set up.

SOUTHSUDANCRISIS_APPEAL_60SECONDS from John Lynam on Vimeo.

In total, almost 900,000 South Sudanese refugees are now living in Uganda. Half a million are children. It is, the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world.

Uganda is far from a wealthy country, yet they have opened up their borders to a massive influx of people fleeing conflict.

I don't always agree with the Ugandan government; however, they do have among the most progressive, enlightened and compassionate refugee policies in the world. They provide plots of land for each family to build a home, grow crops and feed themselves. Refugees can travel freely, work, start their own businesses and access services like health care and education.

liam cunningham

Understandably, Uganda is straining under the pressure of accommodating so many people. But they continue to show concern for their fellow Africans.

Organisations like World Vision, International Rescue Committee and Unicef are doing what they can to assist too; but it is a tough ask when they only have around 15% of the funds they need to respond. As a direct consequence of that, the World Food Program recently announced they'd been forced to cut food rations.

I have watched the war weary and hungry from South Sudan arrive into a welcoming Uganda. They are images I won't soon forget. I urge the international community to move quickly to share responsibility for this crisis. Those that say it's not our problem, are the problem.

Irish actor Liam Cunningham is is best known as Davos Seaworth in HBO's Game of Thrones. He recently travelled to Northern Uganda with humanitarian aid agency World Vision

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