Uganda needs more financial support to be able to properly accommodate the growing number of refugees, the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has told a high level United Nations delegation.
Kadaga, who was meeting various UN agencies including UNDP, UNOPS, UNICEF, UNFPA, WFP and UN Women also thanked the bodies for the other forms of support offered to the country.
“Although we are being thanked for hosting refugees we need to be supported in terms of infrastructure because our resources are being strained since the locals have to compete with the refugees,” she said.
The high level mission of the six UN agencies is in Uganda to assess the organisation’s work in supporting the country’s development efforts.
The meeting with the Speaker was held at Parliament Building on Friday 4 March 2018.
Kadaga said that some of the local roads have been degraded by the trucks accessing the remote areas to supply aid.
“When I visited West Nile I found out that in some areas the local population was being made to wait for the refugees to access water first at the boreholes,” she noted.
The Department of Refugees in the Office of the Prime Minister and UNHCR estimate that Uganda was hosting over 1.3 million refugees and asylum seekers, at the end August 2017. Slightly over one million are from South Sudan while others are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burundi, Somalia and other countries.
In 2017, the UNICEF humanitarian report projected that the total refugee population in Uganda would increase from 1.4 million to about 1.8 million by December 2018.
The Speaker said that the government has recently resorted to borrowing money to be able to support the surging numbers of refugees.
“We need all the support from the United Nations bodies,” she said.
Kadaga applauded the bodies for the support offered, saying, “We have worked together on the campaign against Female Genital Mutilation and the fight against Climate Change”.
Kadaga also noted that in a bid to promote transparency Parliament is working on establishing a radio with the help of UNDP.
The Leader of the UN delegation and President of the UNDP, UNFPA and UNOPS Executive Board, Mr Jagdish Koonjul, expressed his appreciation to the government of Uganda with its work on the refugee situation.
“On refugees, we are grateful for the openness and accommodation of the refugees. We understand fully the challenges and we ask that you keep your borders open because we fear that there might be a greater influx of refugees,” he said.
Koonjul added that while in West Nile they had visited a training centre for refugees in West Nile established by UNHCR and the government. He urged the UN bodies to provide support to the government in this area.
“We noticed that the training centre equips the refugees with skills so that they become productive and earn for themselves,” he added.
The meeting with the Speaker was one of several with key government officials. UN partners, the diplomatic community, multilateral agencies and civil society.