UN Resident Coordinator Ms. Rosa Malango opening statement delivered as a panel member at the 2016 CERF high-level pledging conference at the United Nations Headquarters, New YorkDec 13, 2016
Your Excellency, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon,
Your Excellency, the President of the 69th General Assembly and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uganda, Mr. Sam Kutesa,
Your Excellency, Ms. Ulla Tørnæs, Minister for Development Cooperation of Denmark,
Mr. Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,
Mr. Stephen O’Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to thank the Secretary-General for inviting us in Uganda to share our approach of innovation and dignity in refugee and host management.
Allow me to start by applauding the exemplary leadership of the Government of Uganda, providing a safe haven in a volatile region, through its open-door and out-of-camp settlement approach, freedom of movement and the right to work for refugees, and strong emphasis on building the self-reliance of refugees and host communities.
Uganda’s refugee-hosting model is an inspiration regionally and globally. The Government of Uganda has invested significantly in making this possible. However, for the model to be sustained, it needs our support.
The Government of Uganda and the United Nations system is committed to delivering as one. At the heart of this commitment is the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, which is fully aligned to the Government’s second National Development Plan, that includes how the rights and needs of displaced people must be understood not only as “humanitarian” in nature, but equally as development challenges to be addressed in concert with the needs of host communities and local institutions.
On the ground, supported by a dedicated team, Uganda has established United Nations Area Coordinators (or UNACs). These provide a link between policy coordination at Kampala, and the coordination of service delivery in affected areas. This mechanism has enabled the Government and the United Nations, both at the national and sub national level, to jointly identify needs and financing requirements.
2016 has been a critical year. In January, the Government and United Nations Country Team planned for 500,000 refugees by years’ end. Yet, as we know, the conflict in South Sudan escalated over the summer resulting in an ongoing influx, that now sees Uganda hosting just under 900,000 refugees. We expect this to cross the 1 million mark shortly.
Uganda was the top recipient country of CERF funds in 2016 with $28 million, channeled through 8 UN agencies and their implementing partners, guided by Government’s priorities.
In light of this, the role of CERF has been essential. It has enabled the United Nations to respond through a targeted and holistic approach. It has empowered the UN Country Team to be responsive to the Government while addressing lifesaving needs and providing basic social services to host communities.
I have seen firsthand, in both northern and western Uganda, the close coordination and collaboration between the Government, the UN system and implementing NGOs. Beyond funding, CERF has re-enforced Uganda’s nationally-led response and provided additional leverage to access other financing sources.
However, I also witnessed the need for greater investment in health, education and livelihoods, if Uganda’s refugee hosting communities are to not just survive but thrive.
While the CERF has enabled us to respond to refugee crises, we also need to identify financing modalities for communities facing slow onset disasters, such as droughts.
In Uganda, with an estimated population of 40 million, and a refugee population expected to reach 1 million, the country is also responding to considerable levels of food insecurity. Over 1.3 million Ugandans are facing severe shortages of food, scarcity of water and pasture as a result of failed rains.
Many of these communities are the same ones hosting refugees. If we are to prevent these communities from seeking humanitarian assistance, a new type of financing that focus on resilience through natural resource management, enhanced land and livestock management and improved service delivery is needed.
I urge the CERF to adjust its criteria to enable countries to respond to context such as those found in Uganda. Supporting safety nets as well as lifesaving needs, including those related to health and livestock, will further increase the reach and impact of the CERF.
In this regard, I invite the CERF Advisory Board to visit the transformation underway in Uganda. I am confident this will inform and ultimately benefit other recipients of the Fund.
Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The CERF remains the only financing platform from all Member State for all Member States. I reiterate the Secretary-General’s call for a US$1 billion Fund by 2018 and reaffirm the United Nations in Uganda’s commitment to the innovative and transformational use of the funds to support those most in need.