"Why Uganda is one of the world's most hospitable refugee destinations" PBS NewsHour 10/18/2016
SUMMARY: In a world struggling with anti-immigrant sentiment, Uganda provides a rare hospitable welcome for those seeking asylum. Refugees live in settlements where they are able to run small businesses, attend mosques and children attend school. The country's support system is possible mainly because of its unilateral political structure. Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports from Uganda.
Editor's Note: A version of this story aired on the PBS program “Religion and Ethics Weekly.”
JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour): In a world struggling to accommodate a record number of Refugees, one country has been notably welcoming.
Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro has a report from Uganda. It's part of his Agents for Change series.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO (NewsHour): Nakivale in Southern Uganda looks like any other dusty rural African town. What's remarkable is that almost none of its 113,000 residents are Ugandan.
All of these schoolchildren and their parents are refugees.
Burundi? Rwanda? Congo?
All told, 13 nations are represented in this crowded school, their families fleeing conflicts across a wide swathe of East Africa and finding haven in what must rank as one of the world's most hospitable countries to refugees.
In Uganda, refugees are placed in settlements and not camps, and the government says there's an important difference. Camps tend to confine people, whereas, in Uganda, when refugees arrive, they are issued legal I.D.s that entitle them to move freely anywhere in the country, to find a job, start a business, put their children in school.
Refugees in rural areas are given a small plot of land to farm. Others migrate to the urban areas. Somalis are among the earlier arrivals in recent years. Their enclaves in the capital, Kampala, are well-established with small businesses and mosques, a predominantly Muslim community in a mostly Christian nation.
Mohammed Abdi runs this grocery story with his partner, Zahara Hassan.
MOHAMMED ABDI, Somali Immigrant (through translator): We have very many Ugandan customers and we are friends. I am one of the Somali elders in the community. We interact with the elders of the Ugandan community, whether leaders in this distract or region. And we are friends, and they welcome us. We're very happy. We're like one people.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: And one scholar who's studied refugees in Uganda says there's reason to be happy.
ALEXANDER BETTS, Oxford University: We showed in the capital city of Uganda, Kampala, 20 percent of refugees own businesses that employ someone else. And of those they employ, 40 percent are citizens of the host country. So refugees can contribute to the host societies that they're part of.