Some of Congolese refugees.

A European Union (EU)-funded humanitarian project to last one year has been launched in Uganda to help cover the basic needs of about 300,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the southwest of the country.

Funded through the European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (DG ECHO), the project is receiving support worth EUR 3 million (about Shs 12 billion).

‘‘Our goal is to ensure that the most vulnerable refugees are safe and that their basic needs are covered. This means providing them with shelter, food, water, protection and helping them on the path to self-reliance,” said Isabelle D’Haudt, Head of EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations in Uganda.

The project is a consortium led by the Danish Refugee Council in Uganda in partnership with the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and Action Against Hunger (ACF). The three organisations bring the experience, technical expertise and operational strength needed for the successful implementation of the planned actions.

In addition, the project also aims at protecting the environment in refugee-hosting areas.

‘‘For the first time, we have a project where the household is at the centre of our operations. It is an integral and critical part of the protection and solutions strategy,’’ said Severine Moisy, Head of Programmes at the Danish Refugee Council. ‘‘We designed assistance around the refugee household; partners are bringing together their efforts into one coordinated and standardised approach across the board to be used for selected households having specific needs.’’

The project is expected to benefit 3 500 vulnerable households comprising 18 000 individuals in the two settlements of Kyaka II and Kyangwali, located in the Kyegegwa and Kikuube districts respectively, in southwestern Uganda. These settlements were chosen as areas for intervention because of their urgent humanitarian needs and the presence of very vulnerable refugees in them. Furthermore, these two settlements continue to receive new arrivals of people fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Between May 2017 and December 2018, the Danish Refugee Council led another EU-funded consortium which provided aid to 350 000 South Sudanese refugees and their host communities in northern Uganda by giving them sustainable access to water and sanitation, shelter, livelihoods and protection services.

Similarly, in a pilot project that ran between April and November 2018, the EU supported a cash programme implemented by the Danish Refugee Council in Kyaka II which provided aid to 3 000 households. The beneficiaries, vulnerable new arrivals from the Democratic Republic of Congo, received cash grants to meet their basic needs.

According to the most recent verification of refugee numbers, carried out by the Government of Uganda and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Uganda is host to about 1.2 million refugees.