Café Avra @ Uganda

Café Avra will be taking a short break for a few days due to very slow and basically non-existent Internet here in Kampala.

First impressions of Kampala: quite similar to Nairobi in structure, although the weather is more tropical and it is built on hills so there is usually a beautiful view of the horizon. Ugandans seem a bit more laid back then the Kenyans living in Nairobi, so things are nice and easy. So 25 minutes here mean about 1 hour and 15 minutes instead of about 45 in Nairobi:) Traffic is bad during rush hour; though I seem to be breathing better here–not as many fumes as in Nairobi!

Funniest thing about Kampala: We are staying in an apartment complex that rivals apartment blocks in Bosnia in the 1970’s. Difference? Large storks surround the complex and they are not delivering babies. Freaky! Pictures to come…(too slow to upload!)

In other news…since the bombings on July 11th here in Kampala, the security has increased quite a bit around the center of the city, and most Ugandans and expats here seem calm.

Work wise, the HIAS team is working effortlessly with the collaboration of their partner here in Uganda, Refugee Law Project, interviewing for resettlement mainly Congolese Refugees who have been through some of the worst experiences I have ever heard, both in their home country and even when seeking refuge here in Uganda.

This includes sexual torture for both men and women. Men getting sodomized in jails as young as 13, women who have contracted HIV from being raped as young as 10 years old and then forced to breast feed their child (who didn’t contract the virus by birth) because of lack of assistance. Men forced to rape their family members.

It is terrible and this is happening now. One of the refugees reached Kampala in December of 2009. 7 months ago.

The UNHCR in Uganda does not seem to give the same assistance to both urban refugees and refugees living in camps as they do in Kenya. Their wait times for Refugee Status Determination are twice as long and are getting denied assistance and resettlement on a higher rate.

This is why HIAS is playing such an important role here trying to resettle just a fraction of these horrible cases. I have a few more days here in Kampala and will be interviewing staff at the Refugee Law Project, and our HIAS Staff, for their insights on this situation.

~Amy @ Makerere University in Kampala

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