It is now extremely difficult for refugees fleeing from South Sudan to find a safe path into Uganda, because neither the rebels nor the government forces in South Sudan will allow civilians to flee the country. Currently, all the border points are unsafe except for Goboro, which is a refugee’s one chance, traveling on footpaths and through the bush, to arrive safely in Uganda. Thus, a majority of people wishing to flee the violence, food insecurity, inflation, and lack of services in South Sudan trail quietly through the bush to access Goboro and enter Uganda. Only then does the traveler breathe a long sigh of relief. Since refugees arrive at this point extremely exhausted, UNHCR and the Ugandan government opened up a reception center at this location so that exhausted refugees can be assisted quickly.
Considering the swiftness required in providing emergency medicine, RMF was recommended to be the partner organization in charge of providing first aid treatment, health assessment of all new arrivals, immunization of all children, and referral services for the seriously ill or injured and dehydrated children. Our team based in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement quickly rose to the task. At this point, RMF’s major goal is to ensure that no refugee who has arrived in Uganda dies of any curable sickness. On a daily basis, over 100 people are treated.
To meet the needs of the continuing influx of South Sudanese refugees, the following supplies are in great demand:
Having left most of their belongings behind, new arrivals are in need of basic non-food items:
The refugees now arriving at Goboro are South Sudanese citizens who had waited patiently and hoped that the situation in their country would change. Each day, they have seen the situation deteriorating, and they finally left to seek refuge in Uganda. When the exhausted refugees have received ample rest, they are respectfully transported by UNHCR and partner organizations to different refugee settlements where they are allocated land.
Since 2009, RMF has been working to help the people of South Sudan recover from decades of civil war, which destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure and healthcare system. RMF initiated, co-founded, and continues to support the Juba College of Nursing and Midwifery, supports the Juba Teaching Hospital, and in December 2014, became the UNICEF implementing partner for malnutrition treatment and prevention in Jonglei State and the greater Pibor Administrative Area. Even after renewed fighting broke out in July 2016, RMF’s in-country teams have continued these programs. RMF has also been providing health services, school support for children, and vocational training to South Sudanese refugees in Uganda’s Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement since 2008, and was appointed UNHCR Health Implementing Partner in 2014.
To accommodate the large numbers of South Sudanese refugees fleeing to Uganda (between July 1, 2016 and September 21, 2016, there were 163,540 new arrivals), the Ugandan Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and the UNHCR, in partnership with RMF and other organizations, opened the new Bidibidi Refugee Settlement on August 5, 2016. Bidibidi is located near the South Sudanese border in the Yumbe district of West Nile, Uganda, and has the capacity to support 180,000 refugees. Bidibidi is being built from the ground up, and during August 2016, 31,902 refugees were relocated to the settlement. Real Medicine Foundation is the main UNHCR Health Implementing Partner for Bidibidi Refugee Settlement, and between August 5, 2016 and August 31, 2016, 5,331 patients were treated at RMF’s health clinic.