KAMPALA: The minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness, and Refugees, Hilary Onek, has revealed that Uganda needs $500m (about Shs1.77 trillion) annually to cater for refugees living in the country.
Speaking at the launch of the three-year Uganda Country Refugee Response Plan 2022/2025 (UCRRP) in Kampala, Onek said the refugees in the country keep increasing yet funding from donors has reduced over the years.
“We need Shs1.7 trillion annually if the refugees are to survive on Shs5,300 ($1.5) each a day. We are experiencing the challenge of funds because they have been decreasing for the last four years. In 2018, we had 60 percent funding and last year, it was 47 percent yet we are almost clocking 1.6 million refugees,” he said.
The minister added that most of the refugees in Uganda come from East African states and that the government is set to hold talks with their regional neighbours and agree on how they can look after their citizens in Uganda.
“There is need to have peace in this sub-region because people must live in their homes and not be running away,” he said.
Onek added that as government, they have to ensure that the refugees have access to education, health services and security and this requires support not only from the government but also from development partners.
“We have launched the three-year programme to see that we can manage the large number of refugees because it’s stretching and we need more human and financial resources to maintain their large number,” he said.
UNHCR representative Joel Boutroue said the UCRRP aims at responding to humanitarian challenges in a holistic, comprehensive and integrated manner.
“The plan is meant to support the country in maintaining asylum space, providing lifesaving assistance, improving access to public services and strengthening peaceful co-existence and self-reliance of refugees and host communities,” he said.
Boutroue revealed that currently Uganda is Africa’s largest refugee-hosting country, with more than 1.5 million refugees from South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi and others.
“About 90 percent of the refugees live in settlements located in 12 districts of Uganda and most of those in urban areas live in Kampala District, he said.
Boutroue added that urgent funding is required to ensure that women, men and children, who have fled to Uganda, continue to have access to protection services and live saving assistance.
“The pressing humanitarian needs, refugees, their host communities and general population face exacerbated and economic, environmental, and development challenges that continue to require support in refugee host communities,” he said.
He also revealed that there has been consistence decrease in the level of support for the refugee response plan over the last four years.
Milly Nancy, a member of the National Refugee Engagement Forum, said there is a need to sensitise refugees on how they can use the available resources to support themselves because funding is becoming a problem.
“Refugees have to utilise their skills to improve their standards of living as we plan for sustainability and self- reliance because Uganda is overwhelmed with the numbers,” she said.