Refugees in Uganda

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has commended various donors for increasing their initial funding pledges for 1.26 million refugees in Uganda and urged more donors to step forward to prevent deeper cuts in food assistance for them.

WFP Country Director El-Khidir Daloum thanked the European Union, Ireland and the United Kingdom for providing an additional €3.5 million, €1 million and £6.8 million respectively, as well as the United States of America, which contributed US$15 million more to WFP last year compared to 2019 and 2018.

Ireland brought forward its original contribution for 2020 by four months because of urgent needs while the United States provided advance financing against a recently confirmed US$36 million contribution. U.S. advance funding meant WFP could buy food early on local markets for distributions to refugees early this year.

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“This is exactly what is needed: donors which continuously mobilize resources from their capitals and do all they can to help, knowing that the stakes are high with a refugee population in Uganda comprised of many mothers with young children and fragile livelihoods who suffer when we have to cut rations,” said Daloum.

Without the additional funding, WFP would have had almost no resources at all for its refugee relief operation in recent months. The extra funding cushioned refugees during a period of high food insecurity caused by the lingering impacts of COVID-19 lockdowns and a 30 percent WFP ration cut since April 2020.

Despite the increased support from some donors, WFP was forced to increase the ration reduction to 40 percent from February 2021 because the longer-term WFP outlook for funding is extremely challenging. Based on its funding forecasts, WFP cannot rule out deeper refugee ration cuts in the coming months.

New donors are needed to secure a steady food supply in 2021 in line with the international community’s commitments to meet the immediate humanitarian needs of refugees under Uganda’s Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF). “We cannot stop our support until all refugees can return home,” Daloum said.

Uganda hosts a total of 1.45 million refugees, one of the largest refugee populations hosted by a single country. Nearly 90 percent of the refugees or 1.26 million live in a total of 13 rural settlements having arrived in Uganda with little or no assets, which leaves them heavily dependent on WFP’s continued assistance.

Uganda provides the refugees with land and allows them to work and move freely as part of its own commitment under the CRRF. But refugees remain vulnerable partly because of limited access to farmland, bad weather in some settlements and limited income earning opportunities.

WFP provides them with monthly relief assistance in the form of in-kind food or cash to meet their basic food needs. The level of assistance depends on funding availability.

The following donors have contributed to WFP’s refugee operation since 2020: Canada (US$3.3 million), Denmark (US$1million), European Commission (US$9.1million), Ireland (US$2.2 million), Republic of Korea (US$6.5 million in-kind), United Kingdom (US$27.4 million) and United States of America (US$84.25 million).