Amnesty International faults donors for neglecting refugees

Saturday June 17 2017

Children line up for food at a refugee camp in

Children line up for food at a refugee camp in Uganda. MONITOR PHOTO | NMG 

By VICTOR KIPROP

Millions of refugees in Uganda have been condemned to unbearable suffering as wealthy nations continue to withhold funding, Amnesty International says in a new report.

The report launched ahead of next week’s high-level Solidarity Summit on Refugees in Uganda says more than 900,000 refugees —86 per cent women and children — have fled the brutal conflict in South Sudan and sought safety in Uganda, but funding shortfalls mean that many of them are not receiving basic services such as food, water and shelter.

According to Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s director for East Africa, the Horn and Great Lakes region, donors have failed to increase funding despite the dire need and multiple appeals by Uganda and the United Nations.

“By failing to share responsibility with Uganda, donor countries are failing to protect thousands of refugees’ lives which is an obligation under international law” she said.

As of May this year, only 18 per cent of the funds needed by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, to cater for South Sudan refugees in Uganda had been met.

UNHCR, the World Food Programme and 57 aid agencies have appealed for more than $1.4 billion to provide vital support including food and shelter by the end of 2017.

Ms Wanyeki said wealthy countries should increase their donations to Uganda which is still welcoming refugees when many countries are closing their borders.

“Donors, including the US, EU countries, Canada, China and Japan, must step up support for Uganda by ensuring timely funding for refugees’ immediate and long-term needs. These refugees must not become the latest victims of a collective and shameful failure of international cooperation,” she said.

Uganda now ranks among the top refugee hosting countries in Africa, with the numbers doubling to 1.2 million due to the influx of South Sudanese refugees in 2016.