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Uganda now hosts over 700,000 refugees

By Jeff Andrew Lule

Added 20th September 2016 11:07 AM

The South Sudan crisis that has seen Uganda receive between 2000 and 6000 refugees from the world's youngest nation daily, according to Onek, has pushed the number to over 700,000 now.

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Minister of Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Eng. Hillary Onek

The South Sudan crisis that has seen Uganda receive between 2000 and 6000 refugees from the world's youngest nation daily, according to Onek, has pushed the number to over 700,000 now.

The number of refugees has now increased to over 700,000 since July, the Minister of Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Eng. Hillary Onek has disclosed.

Before the outbreak of renewed fighting in South Sudan on July 8, the Government reported that there were over 500,000 refugees in Uganda.

The South Sudan crisis that has seen Uganda receive between 2000 and 6000 refugees from the world's youngest nation daily, according to Onek, has pushed the number to over 700,000 now.
 
The number is high and many are still coming and we have to look after them yet we are constrained. That is why we want to present our case to the United Nations (UN)," he noted.

According to information from the Office of the Prime Minister and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the biggest number of refugees in Uganda currently are from South Sudan (close to 70%) and DRC (17%). Others are from among others, Burundi, Somalia and Ethiopia.
 
The over 230,000 South Sudan refugees who are in Uganda are currently settled in Yumbe, Adjumani, Arua and Kiryandondo districts.Uganda is the eighth largest refugee hosting country in the World and third in Africa.

Onek said Uganda is constrained by limited resources to offer the necessary amenities, saying more international bodies need to join the humanitarian aid effort.

 "The biggest numbers of refugees are children and women. They need food, schooling and medical facilities. That is why we changed the strategy of integrating humanitarian services and infrastructure development to benefit both the host communities and refugees, to promote development," he noted.

He was launching a new Oxfam project dubbed Empowering Local and National Humanitarian Actors (ELNHA) at Golf Course Hotel in Kampala.
 
The $3m (about sh3.4bn) project is a three year Oxfam project aimed at strengthening the capacity of local and national humanitarian organizations to take lead in the humanitarian response. The project funded by IKEA Foundation in Netherlands, is to end in 2018.  

 Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda, in a statement delivered by Onek, said the Government wants 50% of humanitarian services in refugee settlements managed by local actors for effectiveness and sustainability.

"This will help minimize resources, promote efficiency   and sustainability through building capacities of these local humanitarian organizations," he noted.  

Rugunda appealed to the donors and the international humanitarian bodies to offer more support through local humanitarian organizations for sustainable approaches.

He said with over 700,000 refugees, Uganda still need more support to address the needs of refugees.

Oxfam's country director, Peter Kamalingi  said they want to make sure that by the end of three years, local and national humanitarian actors will have the capacity to design, deliver and lead in humanitarian preparedness and response in Uganda.

"We realized that relying on international humanitarian organizations alone is not sustainable, especially considering the sinking basket of funds," he noted.He noted that 51% of  Oxfam in Uganda humanitarian funding is channeled through local actors.

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