The US has announced that it is halting about $15 million worth of funding to Uganda meant for research and activities to counter outbreaks of infectious diseases over the country’s passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Law.
The U.S. Government also will redirect more than $5 million through PEPFAR from the Government of Uganda to non-governmental organisations.
In the new measures, which were announced on Monday, the US is halting support for all biological threat reductions activities with the Ugandan Ministries of Health, Agriculture, and Tourism.
“The Department of Defense is pausing approximately $15 million for all biological threat reductions activities with the Ugandan Ministries of Health, Agriculture, and Tourism, and will continue to review U.S. government-funded security assistance and military cooperation activities,” the US announced.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s Biological Threat Reduction Program collaborates with partner countries to counter the threat of outbreaks of the world’s most dangerous infectious diseases.
This is a setback for Uganda that is now experiencing a rise in many infectious diseases such as Ebola.
In redirecting more than $5 million through PEPFAR from the Government of Uganda to non-governmental implementing partners, the US says the actions are not intended to negatively impact HIV/AIDS service delivery to key populations.
“The U.S. Government is continuing its significant humanitarian and development assistance that directly supports the most vulnerable communities without discrimination. This includes funding for the refugee response through international organizations and non-governmental organizations as well as the majority of PEPFAR to ensure Ugandans who rely on the program’s life-saving services will continue to receive them and that civil society organizations providing these services can continue to deliver,” the White House announced.
On December 8, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control slapped a travel ban on Commissioner General of Prisons Johnson Byabashaija, accusing him of engaged in serious human rights abuses.
On December 4, the Joe Biden Administration announced the expansion of the visa restriction policy under section 212 (a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act related to Uganda to include current or former Ugandan officials or others who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Uganda or for policies or actions aimed at repressing members of marginalized or vulnerable populations. These groups include, but are not limited to, environmental activists, human rights defenders, journalists, LGBTQI+ persons, and civil society organizers.
Since the passing of the anti-homosexuality law, whose enforcement the West says is part of an ongoing trend of democratic erosion in Uganda, the World Bank has suspended funding to Uganda. The U.S. Trade Representative also told the Government of Uganda that they will lose eligibility for the African Growth and Opportunity Act benefits on January 1, 2024.
The Departments of State, Commerce, Labor, and Health and Human Services and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) released a business advisory on October 23, 2023 to highlight heightened risks for U.S. businesses, individuals, and other persons, including health service providers, members of academic institutions, and investors conducting or contemplating conducting business in Uganda.
“The Government of Uganda bears responsibility for the passage and enactment of the AHA, and the impact that the law is having on Ugandans’ access to health care, investment, tourism revenue, and other opportunities. We are also concerned about persistent human rights abuses, including torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, deteriorating media freedom, and crackdowns on civic and political space,” the US government says.