By Taddeo Bwambale
Government and humanitarian agencies have launched an appeal for sh210b ($86m) to deal with the emergency situation arising from an influx of refugees from South Sudan and Congo.
The Second Deputy Prime Minister, Gen Moses Ali said the funds were urgently needed to sustain at least 60,000 refugees over the next six months.
He revealed that Uganda’s capacity to cater for the growing number of refugees was strained by shortage in land and other hardships faced by communities where refugees are hosted.
Between December 16, 2013 and January 21, 2014, Uganda received 51,570 refugees from South Sudan alone. Earlier this month, Uganda was receiving at least 2,500 refugees daily.
The refugees from South Sudan have been entering the country through Adjumani, Koboko, Arua and Kiryandongo districts where reception centres were created.
Gen Ali noted that some residents in West Nile were reluctant to offer their land for settlement of South Sudan refugees, citing a bad experience in the 1990s when they made a similar offer.
Under the new plan, Government will rent land from communities for settlement of refugees at a cost of sh55.5b ($22.6m) per year.
Of the funds needed, $10m will cater for food and nutrition needs; water and sanitation ($12m), public health ($15.5m), education ($10m), shelter ($6.4m) and transport ($1.3m).
Nearly sh2.5b ($1m) has so far been raised from development partners in form indirect support and pledges.
During the launch of the appeal in Kampala, an official from the French Embassy said his country would offer sh330m (euros 100,000) for construction of shelters.
An official from the German government said his country would offer sh3.6b (euros 1.1m) next month, in addition to sh2.3b (euros 700,000) for water through the German Red Cross Society.
Gen Ali pledged dismissed a request from some South Sudan refugees who asked to be accommodated separately according to their tribes.
“Visitors who come to Uganda should forget their tribal differences as soon as they cross the border. They must abide by Ugandan law. It is not fair to separate refugees on the basis of tribe because this will give a bad example,” he stated.
Uganda is host to over 315,000 refugees mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda and Eritrea.