Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has criticized the international community for failing to fulfill financial pledges made during the Kampala Solidarity Summit on Refugees, two years ago, in support of refugees in Uganda.
The pledges recorded during the summit included USD100, 000 from Equatorial Guinea, USD 5 million pledged by the United Arab Emirates, USD 500, 000 from China, USD 50 million from the United Kingdom, another USD 10 million from Japan.
During the same summit, Gabon pledged USD 250,000, neighbours Kenya pledged to contribute USD 200,000, Somalia pledged USD 100,000, Germany’s pledge stood at USD 56 million. USD five million was expected from Australia, Italy pledged USD 5.6 million, Canada pledged USD 11.5 million, while Sweden committed to contributing USD 27.1 million.
The summit also recorded pledges from Norway at USD 4 million Shillings, Austria at USD 2.2 million, Netherlands at USD 6.2 million, the Republic of Korea with USD 6.8 million, Denmark at USD 62 million, Ireland at USD 2.6 million and Finland with USD 2.4 million. Regional groupings such as the European Union pledged USD 96.3 million while the African Union pledged USD 100, 000. The private sector pledges included MTN Group Uganda with an anticipated contribution of USD 1 million, among others.
But according to Kadaga, the Ugandan government has only realized USD 540,000, out of the total pledges of USD 358 million made during the summit, hosted by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The Summit aimed at raising USD 2 billion.
“We had a solidarity summit in Uganda with all the world’s big names and leaders from the biggest economies. But it was quite shocking when such leaders pledged very little sums of money and later even failed to fulfil the pledges,” she said.
Kadaga made the remarks while addressing the 10th Conference of Speakers of African Parliaments and Senates at the Pan-African Parliament in Midrand, South Africa, on Tuesday. The two-day Speaker’s conference is being held under the theme, “Finding durable solutions to forced migration to accelerate integration and development in Africa: the role of National and Regional Parliaments.
Uganda is the second biggest refugee-hosting country in the world and the first in Africa. Uganda, with a population of 39 million people, Uganda is home to more than 1.2 million refugees, the biggest percentage of who is from South Sudan.
But like other host countries, Uganda continues to shoulder the responsibility of facilitating refugees’ access to basic needs. According to the Office of the Prime Minister, Uganda needs at least USD 8 billion to continue its efforts in offering refuge to displaced populations.
Kadaga requested the UNHCR to build permanent structures such as health centres and schools in the refugee settlements as a stopgap to support host communities that have co-existed with refugees in the event that they leave.
“Settling of refugees comes with a cost to our people because there is a lot of pressure on the local population to share facilities. In one of our districts of Adjumani, 50 per cent of the population is made up of refugees and so there is pressure on water, schools, health facilities and the environment and this is very costly to the Uganda government,” Kadaga said.
Kadaga proposed that for refugee host countries, there should be inter-ministerial coordination mechanisms to bring together the government, international, local and civil society organisations to address the refugee issue from a wider perspective.
“I want to confirm that refugees living in Uganda are not in camps but settlements, which gives them freedom of movement, access to social service and employment,” Kadaga told the Speakers.