June is often the beginning of a new financial calendar in institutions around the world
By Swaib K Nsereko
The challenge is clear. With over 2,000 daily arrivals of South Sudanese, adding to those from Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia, an overwhelming 1.3 million refugees are today in Uganda.
Uganda is soon becoming the world’s number one refugee host—overtaking Turkey (2.9 million refugees) and Pakistan (1.4 million) in number one and two respectively.
Kampala estimates $8b to adequately care for these people in the next four years. Of this, last month’s international solidarity summit on refugees hoped to raise close to $2b. But less than a quarter (S358m) was realised. What went wrong?
On the eve of the summit, the European Union handed over 85 million Euros direct to international humanitarian agencies dealing with the refugee crisis in Uganda. This was even though its commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, Christos Stylianides, would attend the summit. Now, diplomatic norm does not publicly question this behaviour but certainly quietly seeks its sense. Was it to avoid possible fraud?
Uganda pledges to distribute the appeal fund through local communities hosting the refugees — for investments, projects and development programmes. This, however, is hard to quantify and monitor in a country ranking high on the international corruption index.
Aid ceilings and commitments?
June is often the beginning of a new financial calendar in institutions around the world. At this time, already new annual expenditure ceilings and commitments have been fixed. Among traditional donors, they possibly could have already committed themselves toward refugee care in form of development aid channeled through the Government. In that case, the new Ugandan appeal would imply a double commitment. Besides, come at the time it did, might have been too late for inclusion in the processes that fix annual outflow ceilings.
Students of social functionalism know that agents of conflict seek social change in order to occupy prime spaces and assets, regardless of others’ consent. But this must come with responsibility.
Unlike Uganda — Turkey and Pakistan are not making international outcry over refugees. This is because countries that are playing major roles in Syria and Afghanistan conflicts (origins of these refugees), are taking responsibility of displaced citizens.
It, therefore, suggests that international rules over refugees must change. Perpetuators of conflict must not stop at pursuing private agenda; must be compelled to share responsibility over displaced citizens—from the nation’s international assets or their controlled territories.
Writer is a a lecturer in the Dept of Mass Communication, Islamic University in Uganda