Arua City, Development Partners and Refugee Associations plant 1000 trees ahead of the City World Refugee Day Commemoration on set for Friday 28th June 2024 at OPM Grounds.

By Martin Bileni, Communication Intern Arua City

Arua City Council on Friday, June 21, 2024, planted 1,000 trees in five primary schools within the City as part of activities to commemorate The World Refugee Day. The tree planting exercise was done in partnership with various partners, mostly working in the refugee response. The benefiting schools are Pokea, Nyio, Aripezu, Kubo and Aliba Primary schools which each received 200 tree seedlings of various species.

According to Dorothy Ogolla Apio (Thematic Programme Lead – Migration and Displacement at VNG International), the team leader for the activity, planting trees is an affirmation of the government's commitment during the Global Refugee Forum  in December last year to among others, take action against climate change, localize refugee response, increasresilience and self-reliance, build durable solutions and transition management. 

“Through all these activities to commemorate the World Refugee Day, we want to show solidarity to the refugees and lobby and advocate for the inclusion of refugees in service delivery at all levels.” Ogolla remarked.

She said refugee responders like Uganda Law Society and Norwegian Refugee Council have come on board to help refugees with legal services, and many other partners offer self-sustainability, resilience and development responses to the refugees. Today’s activity is a launch of the engagementto strengthen collaboration between refugees and host communities in tree planting and environmental conservation campaigns. We are focusing on what we can do to show Solidarity, Strength and provide Solutions. 

Arua City Deputy Town Clerk, Cornelius Jobile, while flagging off the team of Arua City officials and partners for the tree planting exercise, stressed that the City Council is now advocating for not only planting trees with economic value but also fruit trees to provide food for the people.

He disclosed that they are strategically moving to planting trees in the schools to inculcate the culture of tree planting into the children and also to address the issues of care and nurture for the trees since schools have a mechanism in place to look after the trees better.

“As City council, we are committed to planting trees and encouraging the locals to plant trees to salvage the biting climate conditions.” Jobile asserted. 

Godfrey Jonah Mbigitti, the Deputy Resident City Commissioner for Ayivu Division noted with concern that many people in the city are fond of cutting down trees without fully appreciating the benefits of trees like a clean environment and fresh oxygen. He called upon the people of Arua to be deliberate on the issues of tree planting. 

Meanwhile, Arua City Senior Environment Officer, Mary Dawaru urged the benefiting schools to ensure the trees planted grow well. She says the schools should use the trees to start woodlots for the schools.

The beneficiaries were all smiles and full of gratitude to Arua City and the partners for availing them of tree seedlings and for including them in the plan for the commemoration of Refugee Day in Arua City. Justus Oloto Elema, the Head Teacher of Pokea Primary School thanked the government of Uganda for opening doors for refugees to live in the country. “Pokea Primary School embraces tree planting. We have planted 1000 trees already. We are committed to taking good care of these trees you have given us today.” Elema says.

His counterpart of Aripezu Primary School, Vento Ofeti disclosed that the school has a project of greening the place through tree planting and has an environment club that will take full care of the trees Arua City has planted at the school. Kubo Primary School Deputy Head Teacher, George Angudubo Alu lamented that their land at the school is shallow and dry but pledged to water the trees constantly to ensure their survival

On his part, Stephen Adriko the Head Teacher of Aliba Primary School said the doors the government of Uganda opened for refugees to live in the country has brought many projects and developments in the host communities. He added that the trees are a great gift and will help the school reap many benefits such as wood fuel, and timber among other economic benefits.

Arua City has set Friday 28th June, 2024 for the commemoration of the World Refugee Day and has lined up various activities ahead of the ccommemoration day. These include; Radio talk shows, a City cleaning campaign scheduled for 24th, a dialogue to engage Partners, Urban refugee representatives and Local Government Leaders set for 26th June, and a Football Match between refugees and host communities on 27th June.