Uganda has been shaken by outbreaks of violence between refugees and local communities. The Embassy of Sweden is supporting Act Church of Sweden in an initiative that aims to create conditions for peace. “We are currently investigating what the root causes of outbreaks of violence may be”, says Sanaz Sedigh at Act Church of Sweden.
Ten people were killed in mid-September 2020 in northern Uganda in connection with South Sudanese refugees and locals clashing at a place where people fetch water. The outbreak of violence did not come completely unexpectedly and was noticed by the international media.
“At first glance, it may look like it is peaceful here, but after a while it dawns on you that there is no peace in the camp”, a statement from the local community to Act Church of Sweden.
Act Church of Sweden is on the ground in Western Uganda together with partners in the MIRP Consortium. The cooperation is about creating conditions for peace and development among the refugees of Kyangwali settlement and the local residents of Kikuube district.
“In the last four years that I have worked in Uganda, I have never experienced this degree of violence between the local population and the refugees”, says Claire Mazin, MIRP Consortium Manager, Act Church of Sweden, working on site.
According to Claire Mazin, the outbreak of violence shows precisely the need for innovative long-term work in refugees’ hosting districts in Uganda, with coordinated investment in areas such as agriculture, education, gender issues and equality. These are some of the main components of Act Church of Sweden’s work on site, where basic peace work through social dialogue and a focus on raising people’s social well-being is central.
Through this initiative, Act Church of Sweden works with partners for peaceful coexistence, but also to understand the underlying mechanisms behind the violence. Act Church of Sweden specializes in looking after the individual’s specific needs in society and within the refugee settlements in order to create conditions for social co-existence between refugees and the local population.
The initiative in Uganda also focuses on sustainability, the environment and climate-adapted measures. Preventive measures and raising issues around sexual violence, gender-related violence and gender issues – are some of the cornerstones of their work.
Right now, the MIRP Consortium is conducting basic investigations to clarify the reasons behind the outbreak of violence. The method used by the Act Church of Sweden to create peace and cohesion will be given additional weight in the continued work and will be further developed in collaboration with other partners within the initiative.
“We combine development, humanitarian and peace-building aproaches within this initiative, a model that may become a guide for future programs for Act Church of Sweden in other countries. Cooperation between different organizations with different expertise is a key to success”, says Sanaz Sedigh, program coordinator for Uganda at Act Church of Sweden.