The European Union (EU) in partnership with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has announced a €15 million fund (equivalent to Shs61 billion Ugandan Shillings) to support Uganda’s response to refugees.
The three-year funding will be allocated to improving water, sanitation, hygiene, healthcare, energy, education, and environmental conditions for both the refugees and the host communities.
The announcement was made during the visit of officials from the European Union and the UNHCR to the Nakivale refugee settlement in southwestern Uganda. During their visit, the delegates had the opportunity to interact with refugees in groups, discuss key challenges, and assess opportunities for further support.
Myrian Ferran, the Deputy Director General of the European Union Commission in the Department of International Partnership, stated that although funding will be given to the government of Uganda, the EU is also developing strategies to shift from providing solely humanitarian assistance to offering development assistance, which will ensure resilience and self-sustainability among the refugees through livelihoods.
Rauf Mazou, the Assistant High Commissioner for Operations at the UNHCR, explained that the funds will be used to help refugees become more self-reliant, which will reduce their dependence on humanitarian aid.
Matthew Crentsil, the UNHCR Country Representative, added that the funds will address significant gaps that have existed in refugee response in Uganda since last year. The Minister of State for Relief, Disaster Preparedness, and Refugees, Esther Anyakun, expressed her gratitude for the funding, stating that it will help resettle the large number of refugees who have entered Uganda from the Democratic Republic of Congo since March 2022.
She also noted that although Uganda has included refugee activities in all three National Development Plans, the government lacks a specific budget for refugees, making resources from partners like the European Union vital in supporting the refugees.
Currently, Uganda hosts over 1,542,000 refugees, primarily from the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, making it the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa. The Nakivale settlement alone houses 168,946 refugees from twelve different nationalities, including Congolese, Burundians, Rwandans, and Somalis.