Patriotism Overcomes Fear In the Rhino Refugee Camp of Northern Uganda

22nd November 2017
Elderly refugee

Today in Rhino refugee camp Uganda, people were too scared to attend National Dialogue consultations in morning, leaving the Subcommittee on Refugees and International Outreach presiding over an empty meeting room. It was unclear why refugees wouldn’t attend, but thought that it had to do with fear of reprisal for speaking their mind.

Fear of reprisal is seen as legitimate fears and are a logistical concern for the various subcommittees conducting consultations across South Sudan and the rest of the world. However, these misgivings were allayed somewhat when the success of previous consultations was established. National Dialogue representatives pointed out that just a few days ago in Kampala, consultation participants had not only participated but had openly called for President Kiir and close associates Wani and Taban to remove themselves from South Sudan politics.

But later 125 representatives came, on condition of no photography or audio or video recordings. As a rule, the National Dialogue doesn’t record the names of consultation attendees, though attendees are welcome to introduce themselves if they so choose. In yesterday’s consultation meeting, none of the 125 attendees were asked for their full names, in order to make them feel safer and protected.

Many who eventually attended were disabled or elderly. In fact, many National Dialogue in attendance thought it was the largest showing of elders yet at an official consultation. They asked that land rights and conflict over land be recognized as one of the prime drivers of violence. And many echoed one solution: create a federalist country, in which a multitude of South Sudan states retain a relatively large degree of autonomy.

The Arua area refugee consultations continued today, November 21st, in the Bidoibidi settlement.