Statement by Hon. Sam K. Kutesa Minister Of Foreign Affairs At The High-Level Pledging Conference Of The Central Emergency Response Fund (Cerf) At The UN Head Quarters, New YorkDec 13, 2016
The Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki Moon,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I pay tribute the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for this initiative in establishing the Central Emergency Response Fund, which has remained a vital tool for the UN to mobilize resources to address humanitarian catastrophes.
Two years ago, here at the UN world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development which laid out an ambitious set of Goals committing themselves to "leaving no one behind".
Last September, at the first ever Summit meeting for refugees and migrants here at the United Nations, world leaders in 'The New York Declaration', expressed the political will to save lives, protect rights and share responsibility for Refugees and Migrants on a global scale.
For over fifty years, Uganda has been hosting refugees. By the end of 2015, Uganda hosted the third-largest refugee population in Africa and the eighth- largest in the world.
Since then, the refugee population has grown significantly. 385,166 new arrivals have been received during the course of this year, predominantly originating from three simultaneous emergency influxes from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.
Uganda is hosting over 895,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, the highest in the country's history. Currently there are over 2000 new arrivals being received a day, meaning that the number of refugees being hosted in Uganda is set to pass the one million mark before the end of the year. In the space of a few months, the Bidibidi settlement in North Western Uganda, which opened in August 2016 to host South Sudanese refugees has become one of the largest refugee-hosting areas in the world
With thousands of refugees continuing to flee to Uganda, the needs are growing larger. Uganda needs the support of the international community with providing sustainable protection to refugees and host communities.
- The inter-agency refugee response plans continue to be severely underfunded. This is compromising the capabilities of humanitarian organisations to provide vital life-saving assistance to refugees.
- CERF has been an instrumental partner for the humanitarian response in Uganda. CERF funding in Uganda in 2016 led to the fast delivery of essential life-saving assistance to newly arriving refugees through the fast release of resources in areas where gaps existed.
- Without CERF funds, some agencies and implementing partners would not have been able to provide any assistance to new arrivals and would have experienced significant constraints in providing ongoing services to refugees who arrived earlier.
Uganda's policy and approach provides refugees with land, education and a chance to work - but the continued influx of refugees is putting pressure on resources. While this policy has been praised by the international community, the influx of refugees has brought pressures on the economy and fragile infrastructure. If we do not address this situation realistically, it will create pressures on our host communities.
Therefore, while Uganda gets accolades for its generous refugee policy, Uganda needs tangible support to put in place the necessary infrastructure.
The government is investing significant domestic resources estimated at US$150 Million in the protection, management and integration of refugees, through the provision of land, social services, personnel and security. However, resource gaps remain which include;
a) The Settlement Transformation Agenda which is a government five-year plan on refugee protection and management which has an estimated budget ofUS$300 Million in 2015, this is unfunded.
b) The South Sudan emergency response is budgeted at US $251.1 Million. This is funded at 36%.
c) The Burundi response with an estimated budget of US $ 21 Million is funded at 33% only.
d) The overall Government of Uganda/UNHCR Country programme budget is funded at 30%.
There is therefore a need to mobilise additional resources for Uganda to adequately respond to this humanitarian situation, at a time when globally asylum space is becoming a challenge.
The comprehensive and holistic approach in the Settlement Transformation Agenda/response to refugee management requires support through its pilot phase in the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF)as proposed by the UNHCR High Commissioner, to give dignified asylum to refugees.