Refugees in Emvepi Refugee camp queue for food supplies. Photo by Peter Busomoke
The European Union (EU) has doubled funding to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to finance projects geared towards improving the living conditions of South Sudan refugees and host communities in Uganda.
The increase in funding from one to two million euros (sh8.4b) comes hot on the heels of an announcement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Kampala that the number of displaced persons from South Sudan has surpassed the one million mark.
In the August 17 statement, UNHCR said over the past 12 months, an average of 1,800 South Sudan refugees have been arriving in Uganda every day, and reiterated its call to the international community for additional support to refugees and the host communities in Uganda.
“With refugees still arriving in their thousands, the amount of aid we are able to deliver is increasingly falling short. For Uganda, $674 million is needed for South Sudanese refugees this year, but so far only a fifth of this amount (21 per cent) has been received,”
The EU said it’s channelling the funding to IOM through its civil protection and humanitarian department to finance interventions being undertaken by the organization (IOM) to aid South Sudan refugees and host populations in West Nile.
In the August 18 statement, IOM said the EU funding is meant for the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in Moyo and Yumbe districts, and the total funding for IOM activities in the districts now stands at 2.229 (Sh9.4b) million euros.
The IOM and its partner, Lutheran World Federation, have been implementing the WASH project for South Sudan refugees and host populations since April.
The project, which is funded by the EU and UN Central Emergency Response Fund, is mainly being implemented at Parolinya settlement in Moyo and zone 4 in Bidibidi settlement in Yumbe where refugees and host populations live side by side and share the same resources. About 90,000 refugees and Ugandans are targeted for support under the EU-funded project that will see one piped water system constructed at Bidibidi and two set up at Parolinya.
The IOM will also build 7,600 household latrines, including 1,600 for people with special needs; 34 institutional latrine blocks; eight community garbage collection points at Parolinya and Bidibidi settlements. It will also establish a decentralized faecal sludge management system in Bidibidi and ten bathing shelters at the two settlements as well as conduct training and advocacy campaigns for environment conservation. The IOM Uganda chief of mission, Ali Abdi, hailed the EU for the support and Uganda for opening her doors to refugees.
“The EU has been an unwavering partner of the people of Uganda and of IOM, and we see yet again that the EU is coming in where help is critically needed,” he added.
Parolinya is currently hosting over 174,000 South Sudan refugees while Bidibidi is home to at least 276,000 displaced persons from the world’s newest nation where a brutal armed conflict has rendered it difficult for the people to reap the early fruits of independence. Other South Sudan refugees are being hosted in settlements in, among others, Arua, Adjumani and Kiryandongo districts.
South Sudan refugees have been fleeing into Uganda and other neigbbouring countries in their thousands since December 2013 when a power struggle between President, Salva Kiir, and his vice, Riek Marchar, degenerated into brutal clashes between two diverse government armies under command of the two principals in the conflict. The country attained independence from Sudan in 2011.
Kiir and Marchar signed a comprehensive peace deal in August 2015 to end the bloody fighting, but in July 2016, the country collapsed into another phase of a bloody conflict fought on tribal lines.
Millions have been killed and thousands killed in barbaric acts of violence involving burning down houses with people inside and civilians being killed in front of relatives. Scores of women and girls have been sexually assaulted and boys kidnaped for conscription into the armed groups, according to the UNHCR.