A close American friend of former Forum for Democratic Change President Kizza Besigye, Helen Epstein, once suggested that she might use her international connections to get the World Food Program to stop cooperating with Uganda in food relief to the poor.
It is not clear why anyone would think about the heartless act of blocking help for the vulnerable refugees but sources in the FDC say Besigye and his friend are determined to do anything that discredits the government under President Museveni.
The international community has long praised Uganda’s leadership for its open-door policy towards refugees fleeing war and natural disasters in their home countries.
Uganda has maintained an open-door policy and committed increasing amounts of land for agencies to construct temporary settlements and for refugees to build permanent shelters.
Apart from providing land for settlement, Uganda has always opened its schools and health clinics to the new arrivals.
At a time when other countries around the world were taking steps to prevent refugees from even reaching their borders, Uganda was hailed for being an example of humanitarianism, something that Ms. Helen Epstein and Dr. Besigye mercilessly sought to interrupt.
Helen Epstein is an author and journalist who was born in Czechoslovakia (1947) but grew up in the United States. She is a close friend of Kizza Besigye but it is unclear how their friendship started.
Although not one of the richest countries, Uganda is the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa, with over a million refugees, most of them from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burundi, and Somalia.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported in early 2018 that there are about 68.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, including 40 million who are internally displaced. And developing countries, mostly in Africa, host 85% of the refugee population.
Speaking at the world leaders' summit on Refugees in New York recently, President Museveni called on world leaders to respect the rights of refugees in their countries, saying that it is wrong to treat African refugees as if they are seeking to consume resources of the indigenous people.
"I tell Ugandans that these (refugees) are our unfortunate brothers and sisters having a misfortune, for the moment, being misgoverned or being unprotected against demonic rebels," he said.
The president added that while in exile, both out of humanness and far-sight, the refugees need to be treated well and that those with skills should be allowed to find gainful employment.