Flying to places of refuge

Flying to places of refuge

‘Did you know that South Sudan is one of only four countries in the world that have produced more than one million refugees?' asks Dave Forney, MAF Uganda Pilot

Story and photos by Dave Forney, MAF Pilot in Uganda

Almost every day MAF is flying people up to northern Uganda – people who are trying to meet this need – working in the overflowing refugee camps.

We fly everybody from small, Christian missions, to ambassador and diplomatic entourages, to international aid agencies like various entities of the UN, and various aid branches of many countries.

The situation in South Sudan is desperate, and since this past July, it's only gotten worse - indeed it's becoming one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time.

Recent UN reports indicate that ethnic cleansing is already underway in various parts of South Sudan, and all the preliminary "ingredients" for a lead-up to genocide have already taken place. Meanwhile, dry season is bearing down on South Sudan, and recent reports indicate that by May, more than one third of the entire country population will be facing severe food shortages without drastic outside intervention.

One of our partners Lutheran World Federation (LWF )is very active working in humanitarian situations around the world. They've done a ton of work with South Sudanese refugees hosted here in Uganda. In fact, it was LWF who helped spearhead the effort to get the Adjumani airstrip opened over a year ago, to help the many agencies working among refugees in that area.

The LWF personnel that we flew to Moyo recently were on their way to visit a brand new refugee camp that was opened just two weeks before. Already there were over 20,000 refugees in that camp, and it was growing rapidly by the day. They reported that up to 6,000 new refugees were pouring into Uganda each and every day. Six thousand! Per day!

Uganda currently hosts the second largest refugee camp in the world and the Bidi Bidi camp in Uganda is soon expected to take over that position as the largest refugee camp in the world.

But unlike many refugee camps where people are packed into tents like sardines, the Ugandan refugee camps are laid out across sprawling areas of land to allow for better, and more sustainable living conditions. Each "family unit" (the vast majority of refugees are women and children) are given a small plot of land for a garden. Below is a picture taken from several thousand feet above, of one of the refugee camps around Yumbe, northern Uganda.

Millions of South Sudanese will be thankful that they were able to flee, to camps like this one. The list of things they have to be thankful for is short but significant--life. Water. Food. Shelter.

It is with your support that we can continue serving the needs of those who have fled to northern Uganda. The dire situation in South Sudan does not get nearly the press attention in the west, but scale of the need is clear.

Therefore, please, on behalf of all of our friends from South Sudan, don't forget to pray for this young country, and the millions of dear people who are suffering there.