The United Nations Regional Services Centre (RSCE) in Entebbe will remain in place, foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa has revealed hours after Parliament passed a motion urging government to deploy its diplomacy to ensure that Uganda keeps the UN Services Centre in Entebbe.
In the motion moved by Hon. Theodore Ssekikubo (NRM, Lwemiyaga), MPs said the Centre is of immense economic and strategic interest to Ugandans, who stand to lose if the Centre is relocated to neighbouring Nairobi in Kenya.
Ssekikubo said that on top of the employment offered to over 1, 50O Ugandans as staff, individual contractors and casual labourers, the Centre has led to growth of tourism, hotel and housing sectors within Entebbe and Kampala. The Centre also supports foreign exchange though staff salaries and entitlements, procurement contracts and direct remittances from the UN Headquarters.
The centre employs over 400 Ugandans and is contributing significantly to the economy of the Entebbe municipality in particular and the country at large.
Ssekikubo highlighted Uganda’s reasons for being suited to host the Centre, as the country is a key player at the international scene being at the forefront in addressing the international refugee crisis in the region hosting an estimated 1.3 million refugees from different countries. “Uganda is a peaceful country, politically stable and hospitable which will enable the services centre to provide efficient, client-oriented and scalable services across Africa,” Ssekikubo said adding that “Uganda has tremendously contributed to peace keeping missions aimed at reinstating peace in Africa where she has sent peace keepers to
Liberia, Congo-DRC, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Chad and Somalia.”
The RSCE serves various UN missions serving in Uganda and the region including the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Somalia.
While moving the motion Ssekikubo told legislators that the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe was established in 2010 with the objective of transforming service delivery to filed missions.
MPs said that the location of the Centre had come with enormous opportunities to the town and the country.
“Entebbe has turned from a ghost to a glamorous town with great infrastructure and malls. It has provided jobs for more than 420 people,” said Hon. Rose Mutonyi (NRM, Bubulo West).
Hon. Fred Mwesigye (NRM, Nyabushozi) said, “If this base is relocated to Nairobi, we shall have a rise in insecurity due to high unemployment in Entebbe. Government needs to implore all diplomatic tactics [to keep the Centre].”
The Prime Minister, Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda, however said that the UN had not yet taken a decision to relocate the RSCE to Nairobi. He said that a decision will have to be taken by the United Nations General Assembly either at the end of May or in June this year.
He said that when the proposal for relocation was first mooted, political leadership mobilized through international diplomacy to see that the Centre remains in Uganda.
“The President has taken up the matter and written to the UN Secretary General, and asking the UN to wholeheartedly support the Centre to remain in Entebbe,” said Rugunda.
“Let us remain united, mobilise the country to talk to the UN with one voice. It will be heard and respected, and the UN Centre will remain in Entebbe,” added Rugunda.