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Uganda seeks world support to handle region’s refugees

Kutesa briefs UN officials in New York on Wednesday. COURTESY PHOTO

Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa has called for international partnerships with Uganda’s Settlement Transformation Project (2016-2021) that aims to achieve self-reliance and local settlement of refugees.

The Ugandan programme, officials say, aims to promote social development in the refugee hosting areas as a durable solution to challenges related to refugees, while protecting national and local interests.

Kutesa made the call on the margins of the ongoing High-Level Conference of the UN Central Emergency Response Fund in New York.

Uganda currently hosts over 900,000 refugees and asylum seekers from DRC, Somalia, Burundi and South Sudan – the highest recorded in a long history of offering asylum.

It is expected to top 1 million by year’s end.

The Permanent Mission of Uganda to the United Nations in New York, in partnership with the UN Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) held the high-level side event at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

 

The purpose of the event, co-chaired by  Kutesa, was to highlight the work and challenges faced by Uganda’s leaders and partners in implementing the transformational approach to addressing vulnerabilities and refugee needs in the country.

The event included a high level panel discussion that explored the current response, challenges and opportunities in redefining the response to refugees and host communities, national leadership and accountability, understanding the new Partnerships for action and listening to the new modalities for investment.

The discussion focused on experiences and approaches Uganda has had for the influx of refugees to date and highlighted current response by the international community and existing infrastructural and financing gaps.

Participants who included representatives of member states, business leaders and others in the event were also invited to consider investing in Uganda.

“Even as Uganda remains committed to maintaining one of the most progressive refugee policies; guaranteeing refugees’ rights to work, movement and basic social services the international community needs to lend more support towards the refugee crisis that is exerting immense pressure on the country’s infrastructure and host communities because of chronic under-funding,” Kutesa told the press after the discussion.

Kutesa explained that Uganda has experienced a prolonged drought and the food security situation has deteriorated due to poor water and harvest management practices in some of the host communities.

The event further served to showcase innovative action by Uganda to overcome challenges in their response to host communities, refugees as well as those affected by climate change; it identified suggestions to reinforce modalities for investment and aid as well as partnerships for action in response to existing and projected needs.

Kutesa led a cross-sectoral delegation to New York including senior representatives from the Office of the Prime Minister.

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