Uganda: JRS intensifies services for asylum seekers in Kampala
04 May 2009

During the latest JRS workshop refugees learned how self-esteem helps them live happier and more fulfilled lives in the face of adversity. (Peter Ballais SJ/JRS)
The increased presence is also expected to enhance the collaboration and communication with the Agape management.
Addis Ababa, 5 May 2009 As part of its outreach programme, the JRS Urban Emergency Programme in Kampala provides assistance to three parishes one of which runs a place called “Agape – Pendo la Mungu”. Agape offers shelter and protection for the maximum period of three months for 20 asylum seekers who have no other support network which offers them accommodation and food.

In order to make the place more welcoming JRS has now decided to intensify its services for asylum seekers at Agape by increasing its visits to the centre, offering counseling services and providing the opportunity to raise issues of concern without coming the long way to the JRS office. Through its presence at Agape, JRS wants to give the asylum seekers a sense of real accompaniment. To the same end, JRS has recently provided new mattresses, mosquito nets, carpets and playing equipment. Residents heartily welcomed the changes and acknowledged JRS as a companion on their journey. The increased presence is also expected to enhance the collaboration and communication with the Agape management. In order to empower asylum seekers to become self-reliant, JRS currently explores the possibility of setting up income generating activities such as soap making on a small scale.

So far, JRS has referred single cases to Agape and delivered food and non items like maize flour, rice, beans, sugar, cooking oil, soap and fire wood for the referred asylum seekers once a month.

Agape lacking in many areas

Although they are happy with the assistance they receive, asylum seekers at Agape generally struggle with the conditions they live in. Agape is located on the edge of Kampala and while other asylum seekers have found accommodation in more central areas, residents at Agape have difficulties in finding transport into town. Also, some residents do not know how to use their time as Agape does not yet offer facilities or activities to keep residents busy. However, the fact that they are staying in a group makes coping easier for most of them.

Many beneficiaries are worried and desperate about the end of their stay at Agape. Most of them are reluctant to move to one of the refugee settlements in Uganda, once they have been granted refugee status and JRS support ends.

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