By Ronald Kabuye
The Government of Japan has contributed US$10 million (approximately 35.9 billion Uganda shillings) to UNHCR (US$4 million), UNICEF (US$3 million), and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) (US$3 million) to support the emergency response to South Sudanese refugees and host communities in Northern Uganda.
Since violence broke out in South Sudan in December 2013, there has been widespread displacement of the South Sudanese population resulting in a mass influx into Uganda and other neighbouring countries. To date, Uganda is hosting close to one million refugees from South Sudan, with eighty two per cent (82%) being women and children.
The funding to UNHCR will help to strengthen the bonds between refugees and Ugandans, who live together side-by-side on land provided by local host communities. The contribution will also help to provide newly arrived refugees with core relief items including blankets, mattresses, kitchen sets and other key items.
A sports stadium and market place in the districts of Adjumani and Moyo respectively, will be upgraded to benefit around 580,000 refugees and people in host communities, allowing them greater economic opportunities and improving shared community infrastructure.
“We are tremendously grateful to the people of Japan for their ongoing support to UNHCR and the refugee response,” said UNHCR Representative to Uganda, Bornwell Kantande.
“This contribution will go a long way towards assisting some of the most vulnerable people in society with a life of dignity, while providing richly-deserved support to host communities in northern Uganda, who continue to generously welcome refugees with open arms.”
The funding channelled through UNICEF will provide access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene and immunization services reaching 160,000 people in the districts of Yumbe, Arua and Moyo.
Ms. Aida Girma, UNICEF Representative in Uganda, thanked the Government of Japan for the timely support.
With this contribution, which is the second received from the Government of Japan this year, WFP has purchased nearly 4,600 metric tons of food to reach one million refugees.
The humanitarian support provided by the three humanitarian agencies is hinged on the long term Refugees and Host Community Empowerment Framework (ReHoPE) strategy and in line with the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF). In the Ugandan context, the CRRF is being applied through the strengthening of five pillars: (1) admission and rights, (2) emergency and ongoing needs, (3) resilience and self-reliance, (4) expand solutions, and (5) voluntary repatriation.
As of last week, over one million refugees from South Sudan have now sought refuge in Uganda.