By Nicholas Opolot
Globally, the fundamental ideals of peace, equitable justice and security are sought for desperately, given that a number of phenomenal crises such as wars have befallen humanity.
Despite these shortcomings, humanitarians are optimistic about positive change in global perspectives.
However, what does peace mean to us? Some idealists contend that peace is an occurrence of harmony characterized by the lack of violence, conflict and the freedom of fear from violence. Peace implies sincere attempts at reconciliation, the existence of healthy, interpersonal relationships, equality and a functional political order.
On the contrary, Uganda’s political history has proven to be tumultuous. Since independence, Uganda has experienced outright dictatorship characterized by massive and systematic elimination of civil liberties, gross human rights violations, ubiquitous impunity and an ever growing refugee crisis. Inasmuch as normalcy resumes at the helm of President Museveni’s NRM-led regime credited for relative stability among others.
Trouble still looms. Since September, 2008 more than 2000 civilians have been butchered and nearly 3,000 others have been abducted by the LRA. As I vividly reminisce, in 2003 my family bore the brunt of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).That fateful bloody night my village was attacked by callous marauding hordes of LRA rebels who massacred and set ablaze huts of the local inhabitants.
The gunfire was sporadic and tense as we cowered under our bunker beds huddled like chicken for the slaughterhouse.
Therefore it may suffice to say from experience that harmonization of peace, justice and security are pre-requisites for socio-economic and political transformation. In addition, Uganda has been host to a colossal number of refugees from neighbouring countries. The WFP estimates that as of late January 2016, Uganda hosts over half a million refugees. The conflict in south Sudan has escalated ethnic tensions causing an influx of close to 300,000 refugee.
Furthermore, Uganda is also affected by IDP’s who roughly number 30,136 due to the LRA bloodbath in northern Uganda as well as the massive landslides in the Elgon ranges of Bududa district.
In so far as we’re concerned, these illustrations demonstrate injustice. In her “Quest of Democracy” (1991), Aung San Suu Kyi affirms this belief by emphasizing that where there’s no justice, there’s no secure peace. Human rights are necessary for the foundation of peace.
At a time when relief is critically overstretched and underfunded. I appeal to President Museveni to address the inadequate access of health benefits by refugees. Health service providers have a negative and discriminative attitude towards refugees and often exploit their vulnerability.
His Excellency should also address xenophobic tendencies against foreigners particularly refugees in so doing to the benefit of their co-existence with other local communities. Cultural orientation enables refugees to add vitality and diversity to our rich Ugandan heritage.
Furthermore, the government should show commitment and accept referrals from UNHCR to secure resettlement for refugees. Resettlement is a beacon of hope which offers refugees unparalled opportunity to transform their livelihood. A toast to peace and humble beginnings!