Uganda can boast of relative peace and prosperity. Northern Uganda, where the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) waged a brutal civil war for more than two decades, is now quiet, the LRA having shifted to eastern Congo. Communities displaced for years have returned to their villages to restart their lives.
However, Uganda has human rights issues, not least the security forces’ unjustified use of lethal force and a controversial law that makes “acts of homosexuality” a criminal offence.
Such policies, mismanagement of funds and poor accountability threaten to undermine Uganda’s considerable progress in fighting HIV/AIDS. All three have been cited as reasons for the considerable decline in international AIDS funding to this country in recent years.
The Jesuits in Uganda have contributed much to education and humanitarian relief. Northern Uganda was the location of one of the largest ever programs of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS): formal education for Sudanese refugees. The project closed in 2008 after 15 years when most refugees return to South Sudan. JRS’ schools were then handed over to the government. JRS is still active in Kampala, however, helping urban refugees.
CJI’s involvement in Uganda began with support for the Trudeau Jesuit Solidarity Fund, which ran programs in Kampala and Gulu to help refugees, orphans and people with HIV/AIDS. Projects included both basic humanitarian assistance and the provision of education. Today CJI is helping with a new Jesuit high school called Ocer Campion Jesuit College, near Gulu.