The Refugee Camp that’s Turned into a Thriving Settlement

Bidi Bidi refugee camp is home to nearly a quarter-million South Sudanese who fled the violence of civil war in their home country. Its progressive policies allow refugees to live, farm and work together while they wait to return to their home country.

But, as conditions are slow to improve in South Sudan, many refugees are opting to stay. As is often the case, tensions are common between refugees and the local population, who feel that the refugees are taking resources that might have been available for them. But, Uganda decided to do something different, earmarking a percentage of the country’s international funding to go toward local amenities.

Refugee families were given plots of land to build family-style clusters of homes with room to grow their own fruits and vegetables. As a result, a small-scale economy began to flourish in the camp, with some refugees starting their own businesses. Last year, following a peace deal between warring South Sudan leaders, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said he hoped the refugees would begin returning home.

But, that’s not the case.  According to a new report published this week by several humanitarian agencies, including Oxfam, refugees — especially women — are hesitant to return home. They fear the peace won’t last.

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