In commemorating World Environment Day 2018, Refugee Law Project organised a Television Talkshow at NBS Morning Breeze show to discuss issues of refugees and environmental protection.
With a representative from Government (Ministry of Water and Environment), the talkshow discussed matters relating to plastic pollution in the country and general environmental issues affecting the country, as well as one of the problematic issues confronting the existence of planet earth. Specifically, the talkshow attempted to answer the following questions;
- Prior to refugees being settled in an area, are there any environmental impact assessments conducted? How often are these assessments conducted after refugees are settled? And what role that the Ministry of Water and Environment play in those impact assessments?
- Who is responsible for enforcing regulations of the National Environmental Act? How effective are those enforcements and regulations? and What level of support is the Ministry offering to assist in the enforcement of the regulations?
- What is the status of the Climate Change Bill? Whereas there is demonstrated interest in the bill, its yet to be passed. What has led to the delay in passing the bill? Could there be political apathy or general lack of momentum?
- In relation to the 2018 theme “Beat plastic pollution”, A 2012 ruling from the High Court of Uganda stated that the manufacture, use, distribution, and improper disposal of “kaveera” undermines the constitutional rights of Ugandan citizens. Why does “kaveera” remain ubiquitous in Uganda?
- How is government currently addressing plastic pollution? How about the role of civil society and the general population?
- Whereas the President banned the cutting on Beyo– Afzelia Africana (which is on the list of endangered tree species and was very common in the districts of Lamwo, Gulu & Adjumani), the cutting still continues. Where is the problem? And who is responsible?
- Charcoal production remains the biggest contributor to deforestation. What is government’s position on it?
- What challenges is government facing in enforcing environmental protection?
Particularly, the talkshow attempted to answer the following questions;
- Uganda has been hailed for generous refugee laws and policies. However, current media reports project this position otherwise, what could have happened?
- Looking at the statistics, there are 1.4m refugees in Uganda of which an estimated 102,000 reside in Kampala. Why do some refugees prefer to reside in urban areas even when government and UNHCR provide ‘free’ food, education, medication, and protection in settlements?
- Are refugees and host co-existing harmoniously? If not, what are the challenges?
- There are several policies and legislations for protection of refugees. How effective have they been?
- Currently, a great fraction of the refugee population is comprised of women and girls, why is this ratio so imbalanced first of all, and what specific challenges do they grapple with?
- What can we do to protect women and children as we commemorate the world refugee day?
- Are we doing enough to address the root causes of flight?
- What’s the future of refugees in Uganda?
Sexual Violence as a tool of subjugation
Most of the victims of rape are women. However of recent, rape especially as a tool of war to subdue men, is on the increase. Men of Hope is an association under the Refugee Law Project trying to rehabilitate the lives of 150 men who have been raped by fellow males. Some of these victims were raped during attempts to quell armed struggle in northern Uganda after the NRM captured power in 1986.