It is my pleasure to be here this morning to witness the launch of the Assessment Report on Rule of Law, Access to Justice and Security Needs of Refugees and Host Communities in Arua and Isingiro districts.
I thank the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for partnering with UNDP to undertake this study.
The UNDP - UNHCR collaboration follows the commitment of the two agencies during the World Humanitarian Summit to strengthen the linkage between humanitarian development nexus. Our partnership is also informed by the New York Declaration on large movements of refugees and migrants that emphasizes political will in the refugee response, saving of lives, protecting of rights (such as right to food, education, shelter, work, responding to Sexual Gender Based Violence) and a shared responsibility.
For UNDP, our role in the refugee response will center around improving livelihoods, rule of law, human rights, access to justice, community security and resilience of local governments to better respond to protection priorities.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
This study was not undertaken to only generate report. It was undertaken to guide all duty bearers and stakeholders in bridging the gaps in service delivery by designing evidence-based interventions that are responsive to people’s needs.
I am pleased to learn that this study was very participatory and as such reflects the perspectives of major stakeholders including refugees and host communities.
I thus hope that the findings will deepen integration of rule of law, access to justice and security issues in all refugee development interventions.
With an estimated 1.2 million refugees and asylum seekers, Uganda is the largest host country in Africa.
Globally, Uganda is respected because of its progressive and generous refugee laws and policy regimes. In fact, the 2016 United Nations (UN) Summit for Refugees declared Uganda’s refugee policy a model.
The 2006 Refugees Act and the 2010 Refugees Regulations allow for integration of refugees within host communities with refugees having access to the same services such as education, health, water and sanitation as nationals.
These are gains we all need to be proud of and guard jealously. I therefore implore all stakeholders to use the findings of the assessment report to inform strategies and interventions for more conducive refugee settlements and host communities – such that no one is left behind in line with the aspirations of the Global agenda 2030 and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Our Chief Guest;
It is also our wish that the report influences and be taken into consideration in the government development frameworks such as the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and the Justice, Law and Order Sector and as well as by other development partners.
Ladies and gentlemen;
It is important to acknowledge the unique vulnerabilities of refugees which hinder their access to rule of law, access to justice and security needs in all our interventions.
I am happy to note that the report highlights some of these challenges including language barrier especially in the pursuit of justice, difficulties in accessing bail because refugees do not have a permanent residence, and capacity gaps in investigating and handling cases such as Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) which equally affect both refugees and host communities.
This shows that while significant efforts have been made to addressing the concerns of refugees in Uganda, a lot more remains to be done.
Compilation of the report has been made possible because of the contribution by several stakeholders.
I commend The Legal Aid Services Providers’ Network (LASPNET) and the technical teams at UNDP and UNHCR for coordinating various partners and activities that informed this report.
To the consultant team and the quality assurance team from the Justice, Law and Order Secretariat, the Judiciary, Uganda Police Force, the Office of the Prime Minister, the academia and civil society organizations, thank you for the job well done.
To all the respondents across government ministries, civil society, the refugees, host communities and the district leadership of Isingiro and Arua districts, thank you. This report would not have been possible without your valuable insights.
Today is yet another platform to engage and discuss the report and strategise on how the findings can be put to use. It is my hope that all present today will find a niche and utilize the report and share it more widely for the benefit of Uganda’s refugee response and the districts that host refugees.
I thank you all.