UN offers $18 m to cater for refugees in Uganda

Burundian refugees arriving in Tanzania

Burundian refugees arriving in Tanzania

The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Friday released $18 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support Uganda’s humanitarian response to refugees and host communities.

The funds will support an estimated 512,856 refugees and Ugandans living in refugee-hosting villages in the West Nile, Mid-West and South-West regions.

The majority of the funding will be used to meet the emergency needs of new arrivals coming into the country, while the remaining amount will be used for refugees already in Uganda. In line with Uganda’s existing refugee response practice, 30% of the funding will go towards assisting local host communities.

Many of the refugees arriving in Uganda are women and children who are often single mothers, orphaned children, survivors of sexual assault or part of other extremely vulnerable populations.

Implemented by the UN Country Team in Uganda – the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), WFP, UNICEF, UNFPA, UN FAO, IOM, WHO and UN Women – with the support of NGOs and other partners, the Central Emergency Response Fund funding will provide life-saving assistance in six key areas: protection, including the registration of new arrivals, child protection, and the prevention and treatment of sexual and gender-based violence; food assistance; livelihood activities; shelter; health and nutrition; and clean water, adequate sanitation and hygiene.

More than half a million people fleeing violence and human rights abuses, mostly from the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Somalia and Burundi, have found safety and protection in Uganda.

112,188 refugees arrived in 2015 alone, making Uganda the third-largest refugee hosting country in Africa and the eighth largest in the world.

“Many refugees are arriving in Uganda having fled unspeakable horrors, often with nothing but the clothes on their back. The UN Country Team in Uganda is extremely grateful to receive these funds, which will help us to assist some of the most vulnerable refugees here in Uganda, as well as the local communities that host them.” said the Acting UN Resident Coordinator in Uganda, Aida Girma.

Due to the severe underfunding of the 2015 Inter-agency South Sudan Refugee Response Plan (RRP) as well as a lack of financial support for the influx of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda was one of nine countries selected to receive funding from the Fund. To date, the Refugee Response Plans for South Sudan and for Burundi remain just 28% and 36% funded respectively.

The Central Emergency Response Fund pools contributions from the international community into a single fund to ensure that money is available to support urgent relief work at the onset of emergencies or for crises that have not attracted sufficient funding.

In crises where time lost is lives lost, it is one of the fastest and most effective ways to provide life-saving assistance to vulnerable people in need. The fund selects beneficiary countries by identifying crises with high levels of vulnerability and risk that are severely underfunded despite having relatively low levels of funding requirements.

The other countries that will receive funds are Mali, Libya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Burundi, Tanzania and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The $18 m allocated to Uganda is part of the $100 million disbursed by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Friday to fund refugee operations around the world.

“I am allocating $100 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund to meet critical humanitarian needs in nine underfunded emergencies,” Mr. Ki-moon said in a statement adding “This funding is a lifeline for the world’s most vulnerable people. It is a concrete demonstration of our shared commitment to leave no one behind.”