Deputy High Commissioner Kelly T. Clements was in Uganda from 14-16 November for her first visit to Africa since joining the UN Refugee Agency in July 2015.
UNHCR, 19 Nov 2015
Clements was given a first-hand look at the refugee situation in Uganda, a country which is now host to more than half a million refugees. She was accompanied by Ugandan Commissioner for Refugees David Apollo Kazungu, UNHCR Africa Bureau Director Valentin Tapsoba and UNHCR Representative in Uganda Neimah Warsame.
In Nakivale refugee settlement, Clements met with some of the 15,000 men, women and children who have recently fled the unrest in Burundi. The refugees spoke of their relief at reaching safety while requesting further support, particularly in the areas of education and water, sanitation and hygiene. UNHCR's financial requirements for the Regional Response Plan for Burundian refugees in Uganda total USD$13 million. The funding gap for this situation remains at more than 60%, leaving significant gaps in the humanitarian response.
Clements was impressed by the Government of Uganda's unfailing support and innovative and progressive refugee policy. Shortly after their arrival in Uganda, refugees receive land and have access to the same services as nationals. This is a pioneering approach which allows both refugees and host communities to live together peacefully and for refugees to contribute to Uganda's economy.
The Government has also recently integrated refugee protection into its national development plan (NDP II) through the Settlement Transformative Agenda. This is an outstanding achievement supported by the promising multi-year Refugee and Host Population Empowerment (ReHoPE) Strategic framework. ReHoPE brings together the Government of Uganda, UN agencies, the World Bank and development partners to support resilience-building efforts for refugees and host communities. "The Government of Uganda's innovative and transformative approach to refugee protection is a model to be showcased and replicated elsewhere,” said Clements.
Addressing representatives from the Government, the donor community and UN agencies, the Deputy High Commissioner thanked the Government for their continued efforts in support of refugees. "UNHCR is committed to supporting the Government of Uganda in its efforts to protect refugees. The success of this innovative model relies on the engagement of all donor, government and humanitarian and development partners involved, and I call on all of us to work together to develop an innovative and combined humanitarian/development approach to refugee protection.”
The Deputy High Commissioner continued to Rwanda and Tanzania following her stop in Uganda