‘I made it,’ says South Sudanese who fled to Uganda
After civil war forced Samuel Dhol Ayeun to flee South Sudan as a teenager to neighbouring Uganda in 2013, memories of watching friends die of preventable diseases due to inadequate medical care inspired his goal of becoming a doctor.
Now 27, Ayeun has graduated from medical school and is busy attending to COVID-19 and other patients at the prestigious Mulago National Referral Hospital in the Ugandan capital Kampala.
“I made it,” he told Reuters this week during his shift.
“Being a refugee, it’s not a punishment,” he said. “It is an opportunity to continue with your dreams outside your country.”
Ayeun and his family are among an estimated one million South Sudanese refugees who fled into Uganda after war broke out just two years after Juba gained independence following decades of conflict with Khartoum.
Samuel Dhol Ayeun, a trainee doctor who fled from South Sudan to Uganda. REUTERS/Abubaker Lubowa
The East African country’s refugee policy permits refugees free movement and access to public services including education and healthcare.
A total of 1.5 million refugees live in Uganda, making it the fourth-largest refugee-hosting nation in the world after Turkey, Colombia, and Pakistan, Wendy Kasujja, spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Uganda.
However, only 20% of South Sudanese refugees of secondary education age in Uganda are currently in school due as there are too few places to meet the demand, said Kasujja.