Concluding a five day trip to Uganda, Ms. Kelly. T. Clements, the Deputy United Nations High Commissioner for refugees has lauded Uganda’s open door refugee policy.
She made these remarks while addressing the press at Sheraton Hotel in Kampala.
Speaking to the press, Ms. Clements expressed satisfaction with hospitality accorded to foreign nationals most of whom are from South Sudan and urged for more global solidarity towards addressing this issue.
“I have been extremely impressed at how Uganda’s inclusive policies have improved the lives of refugees and the communities hosting them. Uganda represents the global compact in action, but the country cannot do it alone. More global support is needed, particularly in the areas of education, economic opportunities and the environment,” Clements explains.
During her time in the country, Clements visited refugee settlements in Adjumani, Moyo, Yumbe and Arua to assess the existing refugee response mechanisms and identify gaps that need to be addressed.
Following this tour, she announced on behalf of UNCHR a 100,000 USD financial package that will go a long way in addressing the plight of young and financially incapacitated refugees and members of the host community to stay in school.
On top of providing tuition to 500 secondary students, the above mentioned funds will also help improve conditions in secondary schools and provide critical incentives such as sanitary pads for female students.
Clements says education is a fundamental building block that will in the long run benefit both Sudan and Uganda.
“While we were on travel in the north, I was able to announce on UNCHR’S behalf a contribution to keeping refugee and host community students in secondary schools. Education, of course is the key to both Uganda and South Sudan and so this was one of the areas we prioritized on our visit,” she elaborates further.
Among the high level dignitaries she met during her five day include; Janet Kataaha Museveni, the First Lady and Education Minister and Joyce Moriku Kaducu the Minister of State for Primary Health Care among many others.
According to statistics from UNCHR, Uganda hosts nearly 1.2 million refugees with the bulk of those from South Sudan.
About the issue of unrest that broke out in Bidi Bidi settlement late last year allegedly due to bitty food rations in which UNHCR cars were torched, Clements said that she talked to local security personnel to increase their presence on the ground to avoid a repeat of the same scenario.
However she said it’s the responsibility of local authorities to ensure that such misdeeds are nipped in the bud and perpetrators brought to book brought to book.
“Secondly, issues related to security itself, as I understand there has been a strong response from the Ugandan government in terms of taking those actors that may have been involved and doing a proper investigation to ensure that it does not happen again”, Clements further adds.
Concerning environmental will be working with ministries directly in terms of broader support of which tree planting is one of them.
Furthermore, Joel Boutrue the UNHCR representative in Uganda says that jointly working with the National Forestry Authority (NFA) and other responsible authorities, they are planning to plant 20 million trees in March to address the problem of deforestation in refugee settlement areas.