By Joan Akello
The French embassy in Uganda estimates that over 80 per cent of refugees have arrived in Uganda in the last five years. The majority of the 310,000 refugees in Uganda originate from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while some 90,000 are from South Sudan and others from Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi and Eritrea.
Since the fighting broke out between President Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar’s forces in South Sudan in mid December 2013, the embassy estimates that 87% of the new arrivals in Uganda are women and children.
“France devotes a special attention to the situation of women and minors in crisis situations…In addition to its regular assessed contribution to the relevant UN agencies, the French Government has indeed mobilised 300,000 euros in emergency funding, in support of …new refugees from South Sudan,” Ambassador of France to Uganda, H.E. Ms Sophie Makame said during an interagency meeting on Jan. 28.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) will receive 200,000 euros to purchase 306 metric tons of cereals and pulses for 50,000 refugees for relief food assistance while 100,000 euros will be allocated to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide drinkable water in Adjumani and Arua districts for four and half months .
The embassy adds that UNHCR provides protection and assistance, together with the Government, to refugees through 7 transit centres and 9 settlements in northwest, midwest and Southwest Uganda and in Kampala.
Makame added that through its bilateral and multilateral action, France campaigns for “humanitarian access”, a prerequisite for any effective action.
“The affected population must be able to receive all assistance they need in good time and with no obstacle of any sort… France is ready to provide an immediate critical support for South Sudanese refugees in Uganda,” she said.