by Ronald Ssekandi
and Yuan Qing YUMBE, Uganda (Xinhua) --
Uganda is paying the price of having an open
refugee policy that has attracted thousands of refugees from
The east African country has the
biggest Refugee Settlement in the world, hosting over 270,000
South Sudanese refugees.
The country is host to over 1.5 million refugees from
Once a refugee arrives in Uganda and goes through the
necessary documentations, he or she is allocated a piece of land
where they can cultivate their own food instead of entirely
depending on relief especially in the face of dwindling
financial support to humanitarian agencies.
The country last year announced that refugees will be allowed
to work to gain income to cater for their families.
The skills gained would also be helpful when they return
All these measures are geared towards empowering refugees to
become self-reliant and reduce their dependence on humanitarian
These measures are summed up in the country’s five-year 350
million U.S. dollar project dubbed Refugee and Host Population
The project has already received endorsements from the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
UNHCR head Filippo Grandi on a visit to the refugee
settlements in northern Uganda last year, he urged the world to
embrace the policy noting that it can be a global model on
refugee management and response in the longer term.
Since then, Uganda and humanitarian agencies have been
calling for support but it has not been coming in as expected.
Uganda is now arguing that it is at a breaking point because
the influx of refugees is already putting pressure on the meagre
resources government has to cater for the rest of its citizens.
Experts are now arguing that the world should come to the
rescue of Uganda noting that the country should not pay the
price for being good to refugees.
Wellington Carneiro, who has experience with working on
humanitarian crises in Chad, Cameroon, Sudan argues that the
world should not let Uganda’s policy die off.
"Uganda has turned out to be the biggest refugee host country
in Africa with over 1.3 million refugees.
"Uganda needs support and this operation is critically
underfunded," Carneiro told Xinhua in an interview at Ngomoromo,
a border post between Uganda and South Sudan through which
refugees are fleeing to Uganda. Carneiro works for the UNHCR as
a field officer at Ngomoromo.
Gilbert Kamanga, National Director, World Vision Uganda
argues that if the international community is hailing Uganda for
its open refugee policy, it should be able to fund it because
the policy is an example to the world.
"In Uganda, we have a better model that can work for both the
host community and the refugees because this problem is not
coming to an end soon. The international community should think
and act responsibly," Kamanga said.
He said in the face of dwindling international support to
humanitarian crises, the Uganda model is critical in ensuring
Uganda’s refugee policy is perhaps an example to the world on
how to manage the refugee question if the world is for a bright
Uganda opens new settlement for South Sudan refugees