The Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda has said government is committed to maintaining its protection and asylum policy for refuges, as it strives to identify appropriate solutions for the refugees who are currently in Uganda through the enhanced application of a comprehensive refugee response framework.
He called upon the international community to strongly support the refugee response requirement through, fulfilling the pledges made at the solidarity summit, mobilizing new resources and ensuring coherent implementation of targeted interventions in line with government planning and implementation structures.
Rugunda made the remarks during the 4th National Partnership Forum organized under the theme “Delivering a comprehensive multi-stakeholder response to the situation of refugees and host communities in Uganda” at Pearl of Africa hotel in Kampala on Thursday.
The National Partnership Forum is an apex structure under the National Partnership Dialogue Framework that defines the engagement and management of the partnership between the Government of Uganda and the development partners in the joint effort to develop and transform Uganda.
Rugunda commended the National Partnership Forum for being vital in influencing the delivery of services to Ugandans through tackling implementation issues in its engagements.
The Premier said Uganda is committed to pursuing a comprehensive and predictable refugee response based on the principles of international cooperation, solidarity and responsibility sharing as stipulated in the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, which was adopted by world leaders in September 2016.
He noted that Uganda has a long history of hosting refugees and currently, it hosts the third largest population of refugees in the world. He emphasized that much as Uganda continues to witness unprecedented influxes as a result of instability and conflict in the region, it is still committed to its open door policy towards refugees.
“Uganda continues to live up to its international obligations towards refugees, through its generous asylum regime and exemplary refugee policy. This policy is hinged upon its impressive aspects which include; Integration of refugees in national development plans, granting refugees land, rights to work and freedom of movement all intended to empower them to be economically self-reliant and fully participate in society,” Rugunda said.
He added that government is investing significant resources in the protection and management of refugees in areas of security, public administration, infrastructure and social services.
Rugunda also thanked the host communities for playing exemplary roles in response to the refugees. He said the host communities gladly receive new arrivals and share the available public services and natural resources like land, water and wood fuel with the refugees.
He urged stakeholders to support government’s policy direction of providing support for development inventions to host communities.
He called upon development partners to continue working with government to strengthen Uganda’s capacity to manage the refugee situation noting that the increasing refugee influx has created both capacity and coordination challenges for government.
“It is important to note that the large numbers of refugees place immense pressure on the available social services and environmental resources. Government recognizes and applauds the solidarity displayed so far by Uganda’s Development partners, civil society organizations and non- state actors in helping it deal with the refugee flows,” the Premier said.
Regarding the corruption allegations and mismanagement of refugees, the Prime Minister assured the Development Partners that government will continue to strengthen the financial management and accountability mechanisms to ensure that the financial and technical resources are utilized effectively.
“In line with the principle of zero tolerance to corruption, Government has already instructed the criminal investigations and intelligence department of the Uganda Police Force to comprehensively investigate the allegations of corruption, mismanagement and abuse of human rights in the management of refugees. Whoever is found culpable will be dealt with firmly and decisively in accordance with the law,” Rugunda said.
The Chairperson of the local Development Partners Group, Ms. Jennie Barugh commended the government of Uganda for its commitment to supporting refugees including granting them social economic inclusion as guided by the comprehensive refugee response framework.
She also commended government for incorporating the Sustainable Development Goals in its national development framework.
Barugh urged the government to continuously engage with the development partners by sharing opportunities and challenges faced so as to enhance service delivery. She pledged the development partners’ continuous support to Uganda.
Government officials also engaged in a thematic planning session on refugee response, deriving from the lessons learnt using a lab methodology that was facilitated by the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit.
During the thematic planning session, officials agreed on a number of key priorities to focus on in order to serve the refugees and the host communities better. The areas agreed on include; proper sanitation and access to clean and safe water, better health and education, shelter, food and security among others.
BY DOREEN NASASIRA
Friday, February 09, 2018