Friday, January 25, 2019
The Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda has said Government will continue to invest significant domestic resources in the protection, management and social integration of refugees and Ugandan communities that host them.
He said Government has already allocated substantial amount of resources to cater for social services such as health for the benefit of hosting communities through Uganda’s Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project (DRDIP).
The Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda made the remarks at the launch of the Health Sector Integrated Refugee Response Plan (HSIRRP) which was organized under the theme “Universal Health Coverage for All” at Hotel Africana in Kampala on Friday.
The Health Sector Integrated Refugee Response Plan (HSIRRP) is a 5-year plan aimed at improving the health status, economic productivity and peaceful co-existence of refugees and host communities in the country.
The Premier highlighted that the Health Sector Integrated Refugee Response Plan (HSIRRP) focuses on improving access to health services as well as ensuring equitable and well-coordinated access to these services by refugees and hosting communities.
He said the integrated approach exhibited through the refugee response plans which is aimed at improving access to services for refugees and hosting communities, enables refugees to be included in the country’s NDPII through the Settlement Transformative Agenda.
“By including refugees into our National Development Plan, we are championing the principle of ‘leave no one behind’ in line with our commitment to the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development,” the Prime Minister said.
Rugunda also resonated government’s commitment to maintaining and promoting asylum space in a context where the majority of refugees may not have a solution for the foreseeable future.
“We keep our boarders open to our brothers and sisters who were forced to flee their homes and countries due to civil unrest, starvation, violence and persecution. We know that no one chooses to be a refugee,” the Premier said.
He said Uganda understands the critical importance of treating refugees humanely, decently and with dignity, adding that “Today it is them, tomorrow it could anyone of us”.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng said the formulation of the Health Sector Integrated Refugee Response Plan (HSIRRP) was government led and its implementation will cost USD 100 million.
She further highlighted that the response plan will enable mutual access to health services by the refugees and hosting communities due to its better integration of services and coordination, unlike previously where there were parallel budgets to cater for hosting communities and refugees separately leading to inequitable access of scarce health resources.
Aceng also noted that the response plan intervention is in six areas namely, Delivery, Human resource, provision of health commodities, strengthening health management information systems, leadership and governance.
She urged stakeholders to support the plan as well as align their interventions to it.
The Minister of Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Eng. Hilary Onek said Uganda hosts almost 1.2 million refugees, and through its refugee management model which focuses on maintaining an open door policy, the country provides refugees with land, freedom of movement, equal access to government-provided social services, for example education and healthcare, and the right to work.
He also noted that the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework model is shifting from providing mainly humanitarian support to long term social economic growth and development initiatives to enable refugees contribute towards national development.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Uganda, Rosa Malango commended the Government of Uganda for taking leadership on providing innovative approaches to dealing with refugees, adding that the Health Sector Integrated Refugee Response Plan will improve quality access to health services to hosting communities and refugees.
She called upon the government to increase budget funding to the health sector and urged the private sector to support the implementation of the newly launched plan.
The UNHCR representative in Uganda, Joel Boutroue applauded Uganda for being exemplary in handling and dealing with refugees and thus urged the international community to honour the commitment of supporting the refugee cause in Uganda.
BY DOREEN NASASIRA