September 8, 2019 South Sudan NEWS PORTAL

(JUBA) – Bidibidi was a small village, surrounded by dense jungles before becoming a refugee settlement for 270,000 South Sudanese August 2016.

Starting in August 2016, Ugandan officials rapidly cleared forested areas and constructed new dirt roads to accommodate thousands of refugees arriving daily from South Sudan.

Taps run freshwater, and small solar panels power streetlights, as well as radios blasting music from barbershops, televisions airing soccer matches in community halls, and cell phones snaking from charging stations in shops.

Refugee families were given plots of land to build family-style clusters of homes with room to grow their own fruits and vegetables. As a result, a small-scale economy began to flourish in the camp, with some refugees starting their own businesses.

Three years on, an industrial skyline of water and cell towers hovers over sturdy mud huts and small farm plots. Schools and health centers are built from brick, slathered in concrete, and fitted with glass windows.

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Taps run freshwater, and small solar panels power streetlights, as well as radios blasting music from barbershops, televisions airing soccer matches in community halls, and cell phones snaking from charging stations in shops.

About 700,000 people living in its many villages in northern Uganda, and it’s the second largest refugee settlement in the world, after the Rohingya camp in Bangladesh.

There's little motorized traffic in Bidibidi, but roads are busiest during the monthly food distribution.
There’s little motorized traffic in Bidibidi, but roads are busiest during the monthly food distribution.
Bidibidi’s kids should have been the first generation to grow up in an independent South Sudan. Instead nearly 200,000 live in the settlement and spend hours in playgrounds.
Bidibidi’s kids should have been the first generation to grow up in an independent South Sudan. Instead nearly 200,000 live in the settlement and spend hours in playgrounds.
A disc jockey plays music from the top of a truck. Festivals, fashion shows, and even a Miss Bidibidi pageant have been held in the settlement.
A disc jockey plays music from the top of a truck. Festivals, fashion shows, and even a Miss Bidibidi pageant have been held in the settlement.

Last year, following a peace deal between warring South Sudan leaders, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said he hoped the refugees would begin returning home.
 
But, that’s not the case.
 
According to a new report published this week by several humanitarian agencies, including Oxfam, refugees — especially women — are hesitant to return home. They fear the peace won’t last.

We have included video clips of this refugee city on our YouTube channel. You can subscribe or watch from the embedded frames below:

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