Many refugee- families at Nyakabande transit center have been supported and their freedom restored through legal assistance offered by Care and Assistance for Forced Migrants (CAFOMI) with funding from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Ali Kulumushi, his wife Aziza Sifa Ali and children were part of the 2,579 refugees who were relocated to refugee settlements. Aziza and her family had been brought to Nyakabande Transit center aboard an AIRD (African initiatives for relief and development) truck at the beginning of the 8th November 2021 influx. Numerous convoys happened during her stay but for some reasons, her and her family were never part of those convoys.
Back in the DRC, Aziza, a wife and mother of five children, was operating a boutique in Miti Village, Kabare territory in South Kivu that specialized in selling women clothes. Her husband Ali Kulumushi was the financial anchor of her business that partly contributed to the financial wellbeing of their home. Ali is a mineralogist who specializes in identifying and testing the originality of gold and diamond. He operated his business both in Congo and Uganda while his wife and children remained in the DRC.
One fateful night, Aziza was attacked by armed actors (Mai Mai) who physically assaulted her leaving deep cuts in her thighs.
“When the rebels learnt that my husband had sent me some money that night they attacked our home and left me with deep machete inflicted wounds and blood oozing uncontrollably.” Aziza painfully narrated.
When Ali had of the attack, he dashed home immediately to find his wife and take her to the hospital. Luckily enough none of the children were attacked. As soon as Aziza got better, her husband decided that they leave DRC for Uganda.
Hardly had Ali settled in when he was arrested by immigration Uganda at the Bunagana border on grounds of illegal entry while he had gone to receive his children who were coming from the DRC. Aziza’s story had now taken a very wrong turn because she was not going to set her eyes on her husband in a long time.
While in detention, Ali was worried day and night about his family and health because he was diabetic and not taking his medication as prescribed. For six months he was in detention, he never set his eyes on family, but when he was 3 months old in prison the Ag Commandant from the Office of the prime minister responsible for Nyakabande transit center and the legal focal person at CAFOMI frequently visited him to see how to restore his freedom.
“On 21.03.2022 I visited the premises of court to ascertain when my client was to appear before court (magistrate Grade 1 Kisoro) on the charge of illegal stay. There after I visited Ali in Kisoro prison where I addressed him on his rights and when he would be appearing in court.” Sharon Nambozo the legal focal person at CAFOMI recounted.
During all court sessions, Ali was escorted by the legal person from CAFOMI who ensured that he knew how and what to say. The magistrate would later dismiss the charge as the state attorney had no objections.
Ali was then released and handed over to OPM/UNHCR on the orders of the magistrate. Ali reunited with his family at Nyakabande transit center in a rather joyous and unforgettable moment that was crowned with uttermost excitement when they were being relocated from Nyakabande transit center to Nakivale refugee settlement after a long wait.
Since the 28th March 2022 refugee influx began, Government of Uganda through Office of the prime minister (OPM), UNHCR, CAFOMI and other partners have dispatched a total of 4 convoys relocating 2,579 refugees from Nyakabande Transit center to Nakivale, Kyaka I, II & III, Rwamwanja and Kyangwali refugee settlements with the very recent having been on the 6th May 2022.
CAFOMI is offering legal and protection assistance to persons of concern at Nyakabande holding center, Bwera holding center, Bubukwanga transit center, Sebagoro transit center and the urban refugee response in Kampala despite the limited funding.
We therefore appeal to Government, Donors (institutional, foundations, private), Partners (UN, INGO, private sector, media and academia), Communities (national, host communities and refugees), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and CBO – including refugee led organizations for support of our efforts to continue offering Emergency Humanitarian Response and Post Emergency Durable Solutions to Forced Migrants.