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South Sudanese cope with new life in diaspora

Author : Memoscar Lasuba | Published: Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Statistics for refugees.

On the World Refugee Day today [Tuesday], a South Sudanese lawyer who won the 2017 Victorian Legal Award in Australian as a Rising Star Legal says he would be advocating for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers in the Australia.

Kot Manoah was a teenage refugee in Kakuma camp, in Northern Kenya before finding his way to Australia in early 2000s.

When he first arrived in Australia, Kot said he contemplated working in a factory or as a cleaner, but got assistance from a friend who believed in his potential.

He said the friend paid his school fees, worth 250 Australian dollars for him to enroll in school.

By 2010, Kot was a law student seeking avenues to practice.

He then begun working for a firm as a volunteer, but a few months later, he got a full time job.

Mr. Kot is currently the chairperson of the South Sudanese Community in Australia, and a practicing lawyer in Melbourne.

This year, he won the Rising Star Award under the 2017 Victorian Legal Awards.

He shares his experience being a refugee from Kakuma, to becoming a reputable lawyer in Australia.

The lawyer said he was inspired to study law by an expert during an immigrant interview to go to Australia and the strong respect for rule of law in Australia.

“As a refugee I lived through where there was no rule of law. In South Sudan there is rule of men where people take the law in their own hand and abuse it and everyone is above the law if you have the powers. That is contrary to what Australia is and that motivated me and my life time to that I should be part of the reform and justice where the rule prevail the rule of men,” he told a podcast from Australia.

Mr. Kot said some South Sudanese with good academic papers are sometimes unable to find jobs for their profession.

He said some would resort to casual work such as being a gatekeeper or at a local store.

Kot, who has obtained Australian citizenship, added that one of his motivations now is to advocate for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers in Australia, including South Sudanese,

He said some of those seeking refuge in Australia from Africa are often left stranded without support.

Meanwhile, a South Sudanese who fled South Sudan to Uganda this year when fighting erupted in his village in Yei area, said he is now working as a headteacher in Bidi Bidi refugee settlement camp.

Elias Kundu Emmanuel teaches at Koro Highland Primary school, in a camp where more than 2,000 children continue to learn under trees.

The school recently got a temporary structure constructed by a non-governmental organization, Windle Trust Uganda.

Mr. Kundu told Eye Radio that the school is an initiative of the Office of the President of Uganda supported by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

He said the the school has registered more than 60 pupils who are being prepared for the Uganda Primary Leaving Examinations due later this year.

“We are operating in temporary class rooms constructed out of plastic sheet. The weather pattern of the area is not appropriate. So the roof of the building is off and on being disturbed by heavy winds that come across,” he said.

Mr Kundu also said Windle Trust Uganda has employed more thirty South Sudanese refugees as teachers and class assistants to help the children in their learning process and counsel them to overcome traumatic experiences.

The World Refugee Day is marked yearly to draw attention to the plight of refugees and honor those who provide them with life-saving protection and assistance despite harassment and threats.

In a related development, the US embassy in Juba says the US has provided more than $2.4 billion to support humanitarian response for South Sudan since 2013.

This includes support to South Sudanese refugees sheltering in neighboring countries: Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Central African Republic.

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