PARLIAMENT: The government of Uganda is looking for over Shs28.8 trillion to support refugees and host communities for the next four years, Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda has said.
Mr Rugunda was on Thursday briefing Parliament on the forthcoming two-day Uganda Solidarity Summit on Refugees, to be held on June 22-23, 2017 in Kampala.
“It is critical that refugees and host communities are provided with an environment in which they co-exist in safety and in dignity,” he said.
He said the money is needed next the four years, with an annual target of USD2 billion (Ush7.2 trillion) starting this year.
The money, Dr Rugunda said, would be raised through national strategic undertakings and foreign humanitarian support towards the high refugee influx in the country.
“With the pressure of the increasing numbers Uganda is currently hosting, we call upon the international community to endeavor to match our efforts towards people who have lost the protection of their own countries,” said Rugunda.
Uganda today ranks among the topmost refugee host countries in the World, with a total of 1,200,000 refugees as of May 30, 2017, up from 500,000 refugees in 2016.
Just last week, Parliament approved a loan request by government to borrow USD 50 million (UShs180 billion) from the International Development Association of the World Bank group to support the response to displacement impact project in the Horn of Africa.
This approval, Dr Rugunda said, was an important milestone in improving the livelihood of the refugees and their respective host communities.
Despite the rising influx, government has vowed to maintain an open border policy so as to allow entry of fleeing populations elsewhere.
In a cabinet statement to Parliament, a copy of which has been obtained by this reporter, the open border policy is meant to provide refugees with land, skills, education and a chance to work.
“We have to keep our borders open to our brothers and sisters who are forced to flee their homes and countries due to war, starvation, violence and persecution,” reads part of the Statement.
“We maintain this approach because we know no one chooses to become a refugee,” adds the statement, authored by Dr Rugunda.
The Uganda Solidarity Summit on Refugees, which is a few weeks away is expected to bring together heads of government, heads of UN Agencies as well as other regional and international organisations, foundations and humanitarian agencies.
The summit will generate efforts towards meeting the needs of refugees and host communities through raising awareness and mobilising additional resources for Uganda to adequately address humanitarian needs.
While in a London Conference on Somalia last week President Museveni and Mr Antonio Guteress, the UN Secretary General held discussions about the summit.