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Uganda Joins the World in Marking World Refugee Day Amid Escalating Global Crisis



Dr Lilian Aber, Minister of state for Disaster preparedness, Relief and Refugees (L) shakes hands with Japan Ambassador to Uganda H.E. Sasayama Takuya (UNICEF PHOTO)

Uganda today joins the rest of the world in commemorating World Refugee Day, reflecting on the resilience and strength of those forced to flee their homes due to conflict and persecution. The Rhino Camp Settlement in Terego is hosting the day’s events, spotlighting the harsh realities of war and displacement while honoring the courage of refugees.

With the global refugee crisis intensifying, Uganda stands at the forefront, hosting a significant number of refugees from neighboring countries. Over 114 million people worldwide are currently displaced, including 24.5 million from the East, Horn, and Great Lakes Region of Africa. In Uganda alone, the refugee population has reached 1.68 million, primarily from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Eritrea, and Somalia.

Growing Strain on Resources

The influx of refugees has placed immense pressure on Uganda’s public services, including health, education, water, and sanitation. Humanitarian organizations are grappling with the increasing demand for these services amid limited funding. Since 2022, over 300,000 people have crossed into Uganda seeking safety, with 35,000 arriving from Sudan alone.

Calls for Increased International Support

In response to this growing crisis, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its partners have appealed for $858 million in 2024 to support refugees in Uganda. However, only 13% of the required funds have been received, leaving millions of refugees and host community members vulnerable as access to essential services and food assistance dwindles.

Munir Safieldin, UNICEF Representative in Uganda, called for increased international responsibility-sharing. “UNICEF calls for a significant increase in international responsibility-sharing to ensure refugee children have sustainable access to basic services including education, health, nutrition, protection, water, and sanitation,” he stated.

Uganda’s Open-Door Policy

Uganda’s open-door policy towards refugees has been lauded globally as a best practice. The government allows refugees to live, work, and access public services akin to national citizens. This policy reflects Uganda’s commitment to providing not just safety, but also opportunities for refugees to thrive.

Minister of Disaster Preparedness, Relief and Refugees, Honorable Hilary Onek, highlighted the importance of offering refugees a sense of belonging and opportunities for growth. “Uganda has made a strong statement that beyond feeling safe and welcomed, refugees need opportunities to thrive. They need a chance to learn and progress, to earn a living, and to feel a sense of belonging,” he said.

Collective Efforts Needed

Matthew Crentsil, the UNHCR Country Representative in Uganda, emphasized the collective obligation to support refugees. “We have a collective obligation to support refugees in their country of asylum by facilitating access to quality education, healthcare, and social services,” he said. Crentsil also stressed the need to promote self-reliance among refugees through job market integration in refugee-hosting districts.

A Call to Action

As Uganda commemorates World Refugee Day, it serves as a reminder of the pressing need for international solidarity and support. The ongoing crisis requires immediate action from both public and private donors to ensure refugees can access the necessary resources to rebuild their lives. Offering shelter and protection to refugees is a profound expression of shared humanity and compassion.

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