A number of South Sudanese religious and educational institutions are relocating to Uganda as the civil war in the country intensifies.
Close to a million people have fled to West Nile in Uganda amidst claims of ethnic cleansing by the warring factions.
Already a health training institution from Kajokeji town has relocated to Arua district with all its students. In Moyo, preparations are almost complete to relocate the Catholic Diocese of Kajokeji to Moyo town.
Kajokeji is located in Yei River State, one of the 28 states in South Sudan. Before the creation of states, it was part of the six counties of Central Equatoria. It is approximately 150 kilometres south of South Sudan capital, Juba, and 50 kilometres from the Uganda border post at Nimule.
William Anyama, the Local Council Five Chairperson of Moyo district says land and structures have already been put in place to accommodate the bishop and other diocesan leaders from Kajokeji diocese in the district. Anyama says over the last few months, several people have been displaced from Kajokeji and have taken refuge in Moyo district. He says the situation in South Sudan is alarming and calls for the residents of Moyo to offer shelter for the fleeing refugees.
Anyama says the influx is placing a heavy burden on the district to share the little resources available.
In Arua town, Kajokeji Health Training Institute has already opened its gates for the students to continue learning. Founded in 2013, the institute produced its first set of graduates last year after three years of training. The school located in Kajokeji town had its own premises complete with facilities. In September last year, unknown gunmen raided the school, killing two students. The raid forced the school management to close the institution and decided to relocate to Arua.
Santa Gudoa, the Administrative Assistant at the institute says since all the people in Kajokeji have fled, there was no need to continue operating the school there.
The relocation exercise has also come with a heavy burden on the management of the institution. Isaac Draciri, the Deputy Principal of the institute says the cost of relocating has been heavy. He says the current facility they are renting is costly. He says they are paying 3,000 US Dollars a month and the landlord forced them to pay for six months. According to Draciri, this has eroded the resource base of the institute.
Draciri also says the relocation has had an effect that a number of students have dropped out because they cannot afford to pay the high fees charged in Ugandan currency. He says this also affects the financial base of the institute coupled with the high costs of renting and provision of other facilities.
On a positive note however, the deputy principal says the cost of hiring tutors has lowered. Draciri says while in Kajokeji, they used to hire tutors from Arua and Gulu, with very high costs. He says they would pay for the visas and transportation from Uganda to Kajokeji. He now says they have cut down on the costs because the tutors are readily available at a reduced cost. He hopes this will improve the standards of the institution.
To the students it is a new experience. Betty Peter Elisa, a second year student studying nursing says she feels more at peace in Arua than when she was in Kajokeji. Elisa says after the death of her colleagues she was traumatized and wanted to leave the institute. She says when they were told that the school would be relocated to Arua, she and her colleagues were excited because they knew they would be safe.