Alabino Okonuo was living with his mother in South Sudan when she was killed in the African nation’s savage civil war.
Fearing he might be the next to die, Alabino walked southward for seven days to reach Uganda. Along the way, the 20-year-old says he saw “lots of shootings and people dying.”
Now Alabino is in the Imvepi Refugee Settlement, a sprawling facility established by the Ugandan government to help care for more than 1.2 million refugees who have arrived from South Sudan.
The Imvepi Settlement opened in late February and already has more than 60,000 refugees, plus a few thousand Ugandans who live in the area. Another facility, the Bidibidi Refugee Settlement, has 272,000 South Sudanese refugees, plus several thousand local Ugandans, that make it the largest refugee facility on the planet.
Samaritan’s Purse has used donations from Canadians like you to partner with the United Nations’ World Food Program and administer food rations at Imvepi. We’re addressing other urgent needs at Imvepi and Bidibidi by drilling wells, constructing communal and household latrines, and providing seeds and farming tools so refugees can grow food on the small parcels of land the Ugandan government is giving them.
Robert Baryamwesiga, the Ugandan government official responsible for the Bidibidi Settlement, says Samaritan’s Purse is playing an important role in helping the refugees achieve a sustainable existence.
The wells eliminate refugees’ dependence on trucked-in water. The latrines we are building, and the health and hygiene training we are providing, enable refugees and local residents to avoid deadly diarrheal diseases. And the seeds and farming tools are enabling the refugees to lessen their dependency on food rations.
“We are graduating from the life-saving stage (of the settlement) to more sustainable phases,” said Baryamwesiga.
Sustainability is important, he noted, because there is no indication that South Sudan’s civil war is ending, and so at least another 400,000 refugees from South Sudan are expected to arrive in Uganda this year. This means your help, through Samaritan’s Purse, will continue.
Although life may be difficult in the Imvepi Settlement, Alabino says “It’s better to be in the camps” than in South Sudan while the violence continues. He’s still waiting to be assigned land in Bidibidi, but he’s grateful for the food, water and other assistance he’s already receiving.
Alabino also hopes to attend one of Imvepi’s schools. “I was a student in South Sudan,” he said. “I want that again”
So does Agnes Nkoya.
Like Alabino, Agnes is a new arrival at Imvepi – lining up to receive food rations from Samaritan’s Purse staff.
“I want to study science,” said the 24-year-old, who fled South Sudan after her parents died and she and her young baby barely escaped death when soldiers raided their village, aiming to shoot everyone in sight.
“In South Sudan, I suffered a lot,” Agnes said. “But now I have a safe place to sleep. I am eating, I have water, and no risk of malaria (thanks to a mosquito net). That is a start.”
Many more South Sudanese refugees desperately need a start. You can provide that when you partner with Samaritan’s Purse. We welcome your donations and prayers.
Samaritan’s Purse is responding to the crisis in East Africa caused by severe famine, drought, and conflict. We provide food, shelter, safe water, medical care, and other aid. Your gift will help us bring critical resources to the those affected in the name of Jesus Christ.