The UN refugee agency and 44 humanitarian partners on Friday launched an emergency appeal for funds to feed thousands of refugees who have crossed into Uganda this year.
Most of the refugees fled violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and sporadic clashes in South Sudan.
Since January, Uganda has welcomed more than 35,000 refugees, a third of whom arrived in the past three weeks from the DRC, fleeing intense fighting in North Kivu and Ituri provinces.
According to a statement released on Friday afternoon by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the escalation of conflict in eastern DRC and reports of violence in South Sudan caused a rise in the number of refugees entering Uganda.
The UNHCR appeal focuses on catering for new arrivals in 2022.
“Uganda is the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa and continues to stand in solidarity and offer a safe asylum to people fleeing. The Ugandan Government, UNHCR, and interagency humanitarian partners have joined forces to provide emergency relief to new arrival refugees, mainly women and children in dire need of protection and humanitarian assistance,” said Hon. Esther Anyakun, Uganda’s Minister of State for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugee.
“Uganda’s exemplary asylum policy must continue to be supported generously,” said Joel Boutroue, UNHCR Representative. “As interagency partners, we are requesting $47.8 million to address critical needs surging for protection, food, shelter and essential household items.”
Francis Iwa, the Executive Director of local NGO Care and Assistance for Forced Migrants (CAFOMI), said, “while the world’s attention is focused on Ukraine, we urge for peace in the DRC. Failing this, interagency partners need additional resources and supplies to meet the humanitarian imperative of the people who have fled to Uganda.”
With the influx of refugees in Uganda, resources are currently stretched.
This has forced authorities in Kampala to put both South Sudan and DRC on notice, saying they will have to pay for the wellbeing of their citizens living in Uganda as refugees.
Officials said last week that the move was one of the many measures being considered as interventions to an increasing refugee burden that has seen more people coming into the country and gradual decrease of funding from the UN and the international community.
According to the country’s minister for disaster preparedness and refugees, Mr Hillary Onek, Uganda has begun engaging with both South Sudan and DRC officials with an aim of agreeing on how the two countries could contribute financially to the wellbeing of the people.
Uganda is currently hosting more than 1.5 million refugees and needs about $800 million to feed the refugees this year alone. However, only $41 million has been received from donor communities.