Minister Hilary Onek addresses the press at the Uganda Media Centre

Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Hillary Onek has called for empowerment of both local people and local government that host asylum seekers.

Speaking at the Dialogue on Financing Local and National Actors in Uganda’s Comprehensive Refugee Response, Mr. Onek said refugees are temporary and will eventually head back home, however their through their involvement in income generating activities, their presence should be able to transform areas that are hosting them.

Currently Uganda is hosting over 1.4 million refugees from South Sudan, Somalia, DRC and Burundi. It is estimated over 950,000 refugees arrived from South Sudan due to country’s escalating five years civil war that has left hundreds killed as others flee to save their lives.

Despite commitment to help refugees and finance local actors we have found a lot of competition from NGOs for funding; Onek said there is need to engage more local organisations to enhance funding in refugee host communities to champion the cause.

“We are re-registering the refugees so that there is no double registration, We don’t want to leave any space for corruption especially from the poorest of the poor, People who steal money for refugees deserve life imprisonment,” he said at Imperial Royal Hotel.

He retaliated that corrupt tendencies among officials especially in refugee management should stop, “I task Police to investigate and arrest those people. With permission from prime minister and the inspector general of government (IGG) we shall continue carrying out serious investigations,” he added.

State minister for local government Jenipher Namuyangu said both local communities and refugees are supported in service delivery and her ministry is committed to working with everyone to see achievement of the already set of goal of continuous support.

“Non-government organisations (NGO) help played a significant role in addressing what government can’t easily work on like disasters and emergencies,” she said.

“When refugees come, the first to welcome them are people locals, they should be helped through awareness, among other necessities,” she said.