President Museveni has said wars and weak States are some of the main root causes of refugees in Africa.
“When there is war in the country it generates refugees,” he observed.
The President was Thursday afternoon addressing the opening session of the High Level Meeting of Ministers in-charge of Refugees in the Great Lakes’ Region at Speke Resort Hotel in Munyonyo in Kampala.
The Ministerial meeting, organized by the Government of Uganda together with the Office of the United Nations Special Envoy of the Secretary General for the Great Lakes Region and the Executive Secretariat of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, was also attended by delegates from Angola, Libya, the Republic of Sudan, Zambia and South Africa among others.
Others at the meeting were the UN special envoy of the Secretary General for the Great Lakes region, Ambassador Said Djinnit, The Executive secretary International Conference on the Great Lakes region Ambassador Zach Mubiru-Muita and the UN Resident Coordinator Mme.Rosa Malongo.
President Museveni who was outlining the root causes of refugees in Africa and recommendations for their remedy, pointed out that he had been watching closely or participating in the refugee situation in Africa for 60 years. In Rwanda in 1959, Congo and the Sudan. He told delegates that even Ugandans had at the time of Idi Amin become refugees in the neighboring countries.
President Museveni however observed that other terrorist acts, apart from wars, could also generate situations where the population will try to take refuge in Internally Displaced Camps (IDPs).
“War in a country may not by itself cause refugees to flee their country, it can cause IDPs that are different from refugees,” he said.
The President cited the LRA in the North of the country and ADF terrorists in the Rwenzori region who caused people to seek safety in IDPs located in areas controlled by the government.
He said the people of Eastern DRC had suffered a great deal at the hands of the ADF and the Interahmwe terrorists.
The President further informed delegates at the conference that extrajudicial actions and sometimes environmental displacements were also contributors to the refugee generation.
President Museveni therefore urged delegates at the conference to analyze the causes of weak States adding that the only remedial action to mitigate refugee creation was for countries to jointly work together to rout wrong elements from their sanctuaries.
“The remedial action to these problems is a joint action by the States. We can act together. I am sure if countries in the region acted together they can solve the problem,” he said.
On the issue of handling refugees, President Museveni who said the commendations by various quarters of Uganda being exceptional in said this was not really the case as most of those people are part of Ugandans who were only separated by the colonial boundaries.
He noted that the issue was mainly logistics not compatibility and recommended that refugees be provided with relief items that include food, shelter, water and fuel to save the forests and trees from being depleted for cooking. He also recommended the provision of Education, Skills and Health to refugees as well as land where available for agriculture.
President Museveni further proposed that in time of peace countries could have a joint development project that would address some common development agenda like the bridge between Uganda and the Eastern DRC among others.
The President welcomed the idea of integrating refugees among the hosting communities but mainly in urban areas once they are empowered with skills.
The Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Engineer Hillary Onek noted that because of NRMs governments’ good policies and the peace in the country, no Ugandan today is a refugee. He added that because of our African hospitality, the continent especially Uganda has been able to host a huge number of refugees who cordially co- exist with the hosting communities.
The UN Special Envoy of the Secretary General for the Great Lakes Region Ambassador Said Djinnit commended President Museveni and other leaders of the region for hosting a huge number of refugees in their countries adding that the Ministers for refugees are going to identify the root causes of refugees and find solutions to mitigate the phenomenon.