GET READY FOR RED!
To mark World Human Rights Day next week, Lena Corner visits Uganda – recently declared one of the best places in the world to be a refugee
THE VALENTINO PRE- FALL
2019 show in Tokyo last week opened and closed with a parade of models wearing striking looks rendered completely in red – the house’s signature shade. It’s a shame we’ll have to wait until mid-next year to get hold of them because the pack-a-punch primary is having a moment right now.
Running the gamut from zingy tomato all the way through to deep burgundy, red has recently wooed everyone from Zoë Kravitz to the Duchess of Cambridge. It’s a confident choice – a guaranteed statement that’s still classic enough to never feel contrived. Ththere’s There’s nothing wishy-washy about red. It’s danger signs and roses, fast cars and full-fat coke. It’s gutsy, glamorous, strong, sexy and also completely and utterly all-in festive.
For a Thanksgiving dinner she hosted a couple of weeks ago, Alexa Chung opted to wear a pillar-box red dress from her own label. It was the dress equivalent of a party season starting pistol.
So how to wear it now? Day or night, either goes – but there’s something alluring about the bite it gives to elegant, even demure, silhouettes and tailoring. Crimson looks particularly peppy offset with camel or deliberately clashing with blush pink, while cherry and black will always make for a strident combo; take your cue from Alexa and wear a red dress with 10-denier black tights. Although if you really want to make an impact, then head-to-toe is the way to go (don’t forget the lipstick: Dior Rouge 999, £29.50, is our ultimate favourite).
And the best bit of the red revival? It’s universally flattering ( primary red suits all skin tones) meaning we can all heed the advice of American fashion designer Bill Blass: ‘ When in doubt, wear red.’
When Clementina Binia, 21, turned up at the Ugandan border, fleeing the war in South Sudan, she had no money and one change of clothes. The Ugandans made her a hot meal, checked her health and gave her a bed for the night. The next day, she was given a plot of land to cultivate.
In stark contrast to much of Europe, where desperate migrants are attempting to cross the Channel in dinghies, and the US – where troops last week fired tear gas at women and children trying to cross the border from Mexico – this is a remarkably progressive attitude to asylum-seekers. As we celebrate World Human Rights Day on 10 December, Uganda is now recognised as one of the best places on earth to be a refugee. ‘Refugees here are treated with respect and dignity, receiving support to help them integrate,’ says Jacob Opiyo, an emergency specialist with Unicef.
Not only was Clementina given land, she was also granted many of the same rights as a Ugandan citizen. She is allowed to own property and work, plus she has the same access to healthcare and education.
‘Finally I feel safe,’ she says. ‘I left South Sudan because it got so dangerous. At night, all you could hear were gunshots. My neighbours were killed. People everywhere were being attacked.’
Since arriving, Clementina hasn’t stopped. First she planted food on her plot of land, then she got work with an NGO, carefully saving her small monthly salary. After a year she had 300,000 Ugandan shillings (£63); enough to buy a thatched hut and open a tiny restaurant, to free up her time so she could go back to school.
‘I had to drop out of education when I was 15 as my father couldn’t afford it,’ she says. ‘All my siblings are uneducated and so they live in poverty. I don’t want that. I want to be someone.’
Now Clementina employs two people in her restaurant and last year enrolled at the local secondary school, where she is now head girl. In September, she used £157 out
of her restaurant’s profits to pay for her mother and other family members to cross the border and join her. She now supports eight of them. ‘My family were scattered but now, through this land and this business, we have a home,’ she says.
So how can Uganda, one of the world’s poorest countries in terms of GDP, afford this level of care for its refugees, when far wealthier countries fall so short? Partly, it’s because they have the space. Two years ago, this part of Northern Uganda was bush land as far as the eye could see. And partly it’s because many Ugandans know what it’s like to be a refugee – memories are still fresh.
But also it’s because they recognise the value refugees can bring. There are 230,000 refugees living in this part of Northern Uganda and the benefits for the local economy have been remarkable. Where once there was empty bush, now there are schools, hospitals and thriving businesses. Locals, who once had to travel far for such facilities, benefit too. So unlike other parts of the world, where there is pressure on resources and conflict when refugees arrive, here there are mutual benefits. One Ugandan salesman we meet says he has doubled his income since the influx.
It’s no coincidence the Ugandan economy is also showing impressive growth. ‘ The change in this area has been amazing,’ says Unicef ’s Jacob. ‘ We have given them the things they need to make their lives better. It makes me proud to be Ugandan.’ Unicef ’s education in emergencies programmes are supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery; postcodelottery.co.uk
6. 3. 4.
1. £555, jacquemus (brownsfashion.com). 2. £55, weekday (weekday. com). 3. £25, topshop (topshop.com). 4. £175, current/elliott (net-a-a(net-aporter.com). 5. £99, m&s m& (marksandspencer.com). 6. £119, zara (zara.com). 7. £360, acne studios (matchesfashion.com). 8. £390, fendi (matchesfashion.com). 9. £457, nanushka (farfetch.com) 1.
Right, clockwise: Kaia Gerber in Valentino, Alexa Chung and the Duchess of Cambridge 9.
Clementina (above) and in her restaurant (below)
Lillias has learned to make beads, which she sells to support her family 7
As a refugee, Nadia was taught tailoring to support herself
Migrants flee as tear gas is fired at them at the Mexico-us border