Last week, I had one of the most incredible experiences of my life meeting South Sudanese refugees in Uganda. I was with Girl Up and UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, to learn more about the work UNHCR is doing to respond to the refugee crisis and help provide education for refugee girls. Girls forced out of their homes, girls who just want an education, girls who worry about being pressured to marry before they even hit puberty.
As a champion of Girl Up, the United Nations Foundation’s campaign to unite and empower girls around the world, I’m proud to raise awareness for their work providing thousands of refugees in Uganda and Ethiopia with access to education—but to see it in action, in the flesh, was moving beyond words.
Our week-long trip began with visits to refugee entry points in northern Uganda along the border of South Sudan. We actually walked across the same bridges as the 460,000 refugees (an average of 2,000 per day) who have entered Uganda in the last six months alone.
As we came back up from the river, we passed many people walking on foot, carrying all their belongings and children on their backs. Just thinking about how many people were doing that journey with so much stuff, and to be walking for weeks…you can’t comprehend it. Their strength is unparalleled. We talked with UNHCR partners and Ugandan government officials at the border who give refugees a hot meal, medical services, and transport to a settlement where they can begin to rebuild their lives again.
By Cara Delevingne
Read more: An exclusive travel diary from Uganda, where South Sudanese refugee girls want nothing more than to learn.