By Isaac Mugera –

Uganda has been declared a priority destination for Polish Development Assistance; joining Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Senegal, which are already enjoying this status on the African continent.

Mr. Roland Chojnacki, the Head of the Strategy Unit, Department of Development Cooperation, in Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), revealed this to Hon. Musa Ecweru, the Ugandan Minister of State for Relief and Disaster Preparedness, at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) Headquarters in Kampala.

Mr. Chojnacki said that Poland’s relationship with Uganda stretches from the days of the Second World War when Polish citizens were settled in various areas in Uganda. He said that more than 8000 Polish were hosted in Uganda during the 2nd World War and this gives Poland a moral imperative to work with Uganda in the current world refugee crisis.

Hon. Minister Musa Echweru receives the Polish Delegation at his office at the OPM Headquarters in Kampala (From Left to Right: Mr. Roland Chojnacki, Hon. Minister Musa Echweru, Ms. Agnieszka Torres de Oliveira, and Mr. Wojciech Bozek)

Mr. Chojnacki said that Uganda has also become a priority country for Polish Development Assistance because of its outstanding approach towards refugees, which is currently considered the world’s best refugee response model. He said that Poland has finalized plans to start a humanitarian project in Uganda’s Bidi-Bidi refugee settlement in West Nile – upgrading of the Health Center and providing mobile homes for the medical stuff. The project will be managed by the Polish Center for International Aid.

Mr. Chojnacki was in the company of Mr. Wojciech Bozek, the Ambassador Titulaire, Africa & Middle East Department, MFA Warsaw, as well as Ms. Agnieszka Torres de Oliveira, Secretary, Embassy of Poland in Nairobi, Kenya.

Hon. Minister Musa Ecweru welcomed the intervention by Poland saying that the best way to preserve the rich history that the two countries share, is to concentrate on the development interventions and register tangible benefits for both countries.

Ms. Agnieszka Torres said that Poland is already implementing a number of activities in Uganda and the upgrade to the priority status will only increase their activities in the country.

She says that currently, Poland is engaged in Upgrading of the Kojja Heath Center in Mukono District, equipping the maternity and the labor room, renovation of the outpatient department and training for the medical stuff.

The delegation took time off to visit Kojja, a small village in the Mukono County, where Polish refugees (former Soviet Political Prisoners during and after the World War II) were hosted. Ms. Torres notes that the Polish refugees were welcomed warmly by the local community in Kojja, and now the veterans, (former inhabitants of the refugee settlement) are happy to repay Ugandans for the hospitality during those troubling times.

The Kojja Health Center, which was named after Polish Siberians, is a gift from the Poland to the residents of Kojja. The delegation also visited the Kojja Cemetery where 97 Polish refugees who died in Uganda were laid to rest.

Ms. Torres said that Poland also supports the Children Sport Charity Academy (CSCA) a youth support organization in Kampala, with the expansion of their Community Development Program, acquiring premises for various activities and shelter for the vulnerable slum refugee children and youth, in Kampala.

Polish support also goes to the education sector through the Salesian of Don Bosco Children and Life Mission (CALM) and Don Bosco Primary School in Namugongo, Kampala.