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Lilias Anita, 35 years old, from Yei, South Sudan

BidiBidi refugee settlement opened in Yumbe District in August 2016 in response to the influx of South Sudanese refugees to Uganda, after fighting broke out in July.

Lilias Anita has been living in BidiBidi since November last year with her six children: Kennedy, Rose, Tondah, Robin, Abraham and Mary – all aged between four and fifteen years. After the fighting intensified in their village in Yei, Lilias decided to bring her family to Uganda, leaving behind her husband – working as a driver in Juba. “They were slaughtering everyone around us. If we refused to open the door they would set fire to our home. I wouldn’t let it come to that so I ran.

They walked for three days to reach Uganda. Lilias cooked a meal of okra for her family for the first two days, while they were traveling. For the final day of their journey Lilias and her children went hungry.

“There was nothing we could eat on the way so we had to wait until we got to Uganda. I had always been able to feed my children with the food I grew on my farm in South Sudan. I was angry that we had nothing to eat and that I had to leave my farm behind.”

When Lilias and her family crossed to Uganda, they arrived the Kerwa border collection point, where they received high energy biscuits from the World Food Programme to sustain them until they reached the reception centre at BidiBidi, where they ate their first full hot meal in three days – posho (maize) and beans. “Once I saw my children eat, I remember thinking - at least here in Uganda we can finally eat, sleep and feel safe.”

BidiBidi reached full capacity in December 2016 and continues to host the most refugees in Uganda, more than 272,000.

Photo: Claire Nevill / Story: Beyond Bidibidi (Follow on Instagram: @beyondbidibidi)

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