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Services for refugees in Uganda running out in January

FILE PHOTO: Refugees

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Essential services like education, healthcare, protection and shelter for refugees and host communities in Uganda will shut down from January 2020 unless funding is urgently increased.

The warning was issued by 40 International Non-Governmental Organizations operating in Uganda, ahead of the Global Refugee Forum due to take place in Geneva this week. They say that the international community is failing in its commitment to share responsibility for responding to one of the world’s biggest refugee crises.

Uganda hosts more than 1.3 million refugees and more continue to arrive daily from eastern DR Congo and South Sudan, but, according to the statement, the response is chronically underfunded. Uganda’s 2019 Refugee Response Plan is just 39 per cent funded as of December 2019.

Brechtje van Lith, the Country Director of Save the Children says that the lack of funding is already having a major impact on our ability to provide basic services to refugees in Uganda, many of whom have fled horrific violence and persecution, but we are now on the verge of a major crisis.

She says lives are at stake as funding will run out and force a number of vital services to start shutting down in early 2020.

“There will be no money to pay teachers and health workers, and programmes that support some of the most vulnerable refugees will have to close,” she said.

According to the statement, education funds to pay salaries for more than 1,000 school teachers will run out in early 2020, jeopardizing the education of up to 100,000 pupils.

The funding shortfall will also affect other services such as healthcare with clinics already operating with shortages of medicine, trained staff and essential supplies. Others include protection of Children, nutrition services, mental health services, Shelter, livelihoods, the environment and water and sanitation.

Jean-Christophe Saint-Esteben, Country Director of Danish Refugee Council says the “lack of funding calls into question the commitment to share the responsibility that is at the very heart of the Global Refugee Forum”

“The international community must step up and ensure that vital services can continue. What happens next in Uganda will have global implications for how the world responds to refugee crises. Uganda is the global test case that must not be allowed to fail,” he said.

Some of the NGOs who issued the statement include Action Against Hunger, American Refugee Committee, AVSI, AAR Japan, CAFOD, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Child Fund, Plan International, Save the Children and the Danish Refugee Council.

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