CEPO calls for refugee protection on eve of Ugandan elections
Merio Jimmy, Juba
Uganda is expected to hold a national general election tomorrow, 14th January. Fear of violence and civic disruption is growing amongst the various political parties and factions across the country. Ranging from religious leaders, civic organisations, media and politicians themselves, a low level climate of violence has grown in the past 24 hours.
Uganda currently holds over 1,400,000 refugees from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the face of electoral violence, there are fears refugees might be disproportionately affected. Many displaced persons worry for the safety and security over the coming week.
The Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation (CEPO) would like to urge the people and politicians of Uganda to honour the principle of peaceful politics and maintain stability across the country.
Mr. Edmund Yakani, Executive Director of the CEPO, said the protection of refugees in Uganda is an important part of the country’s duty to nonviolence and safeguarding of the vulnerable. Refugee camps must be treated as non-partisan entities by politicians, people and the government alike. Human rights must be honoured to all people, refugee or not, election or not.
The CEPO also believes it is apt that refugees distance themselves from Uganda politics, particularly around the time of an election. It is important to consider the ways in which political parties may try to use refugees as political capital.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) should be proactive in informing refugees of their responsibilities and rights, Mr Yakani stressed.
The CEPO urges all accredited institutions observing the Uganda general elections to focus on refugee safety and protection. It is essential not to forget refugees caught up in electoral politics.
Most importantly, however, CEPO encourages Ugandans to embrace a peaceful, free and fair electoral process.