Munoro’s story: How UN CERF Project helped me to safety
November 27, 2018
Munoro Tawoka is a refugee from Kyomia, a fishing village on the Congolese side of Lake Albert. She was evacuated by boat by an IOM project supported by the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) from Senjojo, an isolated village with no motorable access road. She now lives in Kavule within the Kyangwali Refugee Settlement.
In April 2018, IOM Uganda evacuated 456 Congolese who were stranded at isolated landing sites along Lake Albert in western Uganda. This relocation was part of the IOM’s Rapid Response project for Congolese refugees funded by CERF, in response to the influx of Congolese refugees in western Uganda.
An assessment in March 2018 found that there were more than 2,500 refugees at fishing villages like Senjojo that could not be accessed by land and were not served by relief agencies.
Meanwhile cholera broke out and was already claiming lives, especially of refugees. The fear was that if cholera were to hit such remote villages with vulnerable homeless refugees, a huge catastrophe awaited. Hurriedly IOM worked with the Office of the Prime Minister of Uganda, UNHCR and the Marine Police Force of Uganda to evacuate the most vulnerable of refugees. The project hired three boats to add to the one owned by the Marine Police, which moved 456 refugees from Senjojo, Sengarawi, Kitebire, and Bususa landing sites to Nsonga and Sebagoro. From there they were transferred by buses by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to Kagoma Reception Centre in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement.
Munoro Tawoka was among them. She recently spoke to IOM Uganda about her experience:
My name is Munoro Tawoka. I am 48 years old.
I am now in Uganda, in Kavule, inside Kyangwali Refugee Settlement. I have been here for almost 4 months. I am from Kyomia in DRC. I came here because of the war that is hurting DRC people.
I am now the only family I have. I left my husband and our 5 children behind. Maybe they are still there; maybe they were killed – I don’t know. I left them behind because the conflict separated us – we were at different locations when the ethnic clashes broke out. Each person was left to use their own energy to save themselves.
The day I fled the DRC, violence came to us. I was feeling in danger there. People were being killed, chopped up. You see me today because I was lucky. God saved us and enabled us to make it to Uganda. A lot of people died in the conflict.
I arrived in Senjojo after walking for 2 days. I stayed there for 3 days. At Senjojo, there was no food. We arrived just like this. It was only problems. There was no place to stay. We lived outside. We were just there. We were scared because the ongoing clashes in Congo might follow us up to Senjojo.
I am one of the people who travelled on the boats that picked us from Senjojo and brought us here. We were lucky because other people used dangerous boats. The trip to Sebagoro was good. We were safe. I felt good as I sat on the boat. We wore life-jackets.
If I had a chance to speak with the person who was responsible for bringing the boat to us, I would say, ‘Thank you.’ I would thank them because they helped me get to a place where I feel safe from the violence.
Munoro was interviewed by Mary-Sanyu Osire. Transcript by Marion Dehier