ARUA.The 2019 edition of the great refugee run set for the 16th June is expected to attract more than 2000 participants from both the refugee and host communities, organizers have said.

The annual event, a brainchild of Community technology for empowerment network (C-TEN) in conjunction with Office of the prime minister (OPM) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will be held under the theme strengthening connectivity, building resilience.

Mr Peter Batal, the executive director of CTEN said proceeds from the 2019 edition will go towards raising funds to acquire the necessary equipment, energy supply and internet to ensure that the multipurpose community technology centre services are rolled out to many zones in the refugee settlements.

Batal while addressing a press conference in Arua town on Thursday said the event will also be used to popularize the world refugee day set for the 20th June.

Mr Shaban Alua, the sports focal person for CTEN said some participants will come from outside Uganda while other athletes are also expected from different parts of the country.

“UNHCR is bringing 400 people of concern from all across West Nile, we shall only take care of their feeding and accommodation, the run is meant for all people, it’s not a ‘do or die’ but basically running for a cause”, Alua said.

He confirmed some of the activities as the 2km run for kids under 13 years of age, 2km walk for senior citizens, five and ten kilometre runs, sack race and springs for heavyweight and tag of war or commonly known to many as rope pulling.

The 2019 edition will also cater for persons with disabilities; games including wheelchair race, Goal board courtesy of the organization humanity and Inclusion will be availed.

Mr Sam Egama, a delegate of Uganda athletics federation (UAF) for West Nile hailed the organizers and the UNHCR for the annual run saying the athletics body uses such events for talent identification.

“It’s our responsibility to nurture and expose talent, we pick our athletes from such kind of organizations to represent either the country or even clubs”, Egama said.

He outlined names like Moroga, Happy Mary Bacia, Dorcus Inzikuru, Adam Lillian and many others who have gone through their hands to become international athletes.

The run which started in 2016 has repeatedly taken place in Arua town, organizers say they want to give it stability before any considerations of shifting to the settlements.

Artists including renown JM Kennedy and ‘WJ the king’ from South Sudan are expected to perform during the fun-filled day. Inspirational speakers Abraham Majok and Shida Leni, both well-travelled athletes will also be given time to inspire the youth through sharing their personal success stories.

Batal said they expect to roll out more multipurpose community technology centres to many zones in the refugee settlements. The technology centres, a hub for internet-based activity began as refugee information centres during the emergency phase.

Through the centres, he said many refugees and host communities have been able to acquire and expand their knowledge through online courses.
The West Nile region is host to the bulk of 1.2 million refugees in the country most of who originate from South Sudan.