It begins with furtive promises by Israeli authorities of asylum and work opportunities in Rwanda and Uganda. Once the Sudanese and Eritrean asylum-seekers reach the East African countries, they describe a remarkably similar ordeal: They meet someone who presents himself as a government agent at the airport, bypass immigration, move to a house or hotel that quickly feels like a prison, and are eventually pressured to leave the country. For the Eritreans, it is from Rwanda to Uganda. For Sudanese, it is from Uganda to South Sudan or Sudan. The process appears designed not just to discard unwanted refugees, but to shield the Israeli, Rwandan, and Ugandan governments from any political or legal accountability.
My year-long investigation into Israel's secret scheme to discard Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers. Read more.
Update: I spoke to PRI's The World program on July 5. Listen here.
The first time Yiech Pur Biel boarded a plane, in 2005, it was to escape the war-torn corner of southern Sudan where he grew up. He has lived in a refugee camp in northwestern Kenya ever since. If all goes as planned, the second time he boards a plane, in just a few weeks, it will be to make history. Biel is slated to compete in the 800-meter track and field event at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro as a member of the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team.
Update: I spoke to WBEZ Chicago's Worldview program about this story on July 13. Listen here.
Museveni’s unexpected appearance at a presidential debate over the weekend, just days before Ugandans head to the polls on Feb. 18, came as a shock to the country’s political chattering class. Up until the moment he appeared on stage, journalists and pundits were predicting he’d skip the event — just as he had the inaugural debate in January, which he dismissed as an activity fit for “school children.” Though he has been in power for 30 years, Uganda’s cagy president rarely opens himself up to public interrogation — especially by his political rivals.
Yet there he was on stage, linking hands with his challengers in prayer and then, for more than three hours, withstanding polite questioning from the moderators and far less polite jabs from the men and women who wish to replace him.
It’s the Zika virus — which has infected tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people in the Americas in recent months and may be linked to a spate of children born with underdeveloped brains in Brazil — that’s now bringing Ugandan epidemiologists unexpected attention. Uganda Virus Research Institute scientists first discovered Zika in the blood of a rhesus monkey back in 1947. And while Uganda has never had an outbreak of the virus, the country’s unique approach to monitoring the spread of similar diseases could hold the key to stopping future epidemics in their tracks.