KAMPALA – United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – UNHCR and 44 humanitarian partners have launched a coordinated emergency appeal to respond to the critical needs of thousands of refugees crossing into Uganda this year, fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and sporadic clashes in South Sudan.
Since January, Uganda has generously welcomed over 35,000 refugees. A third of those have arrived in just the past three weeks from the DRC, fleeing intense fighting in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces. From the end of March, the rapid escalation of conflict in eastern DRC and reports of violence in South Sudan has triggered an immediate and steep rise for humanitarian assistance in Uganda. The appeal focuses on prioritized needs within the Uganda Country Refugee Response Plan (UCRRP) which originally projected for the reception of 67,000 new arrivals in 2022, yet at this point over half of this planning figure has been reached by mid-April 2022.
“Uganda is the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa and continues to stand in solidarity and offer a safe asylum to people fleeing. The Ugandan Government, UNHCR, and interagency humanitarian partners have joined forces to provide emergency relief to new arrival refugees, mainly women and children in dire need of protection and humanitarian assistance,” said Esther Anyakun, Uganda’s Minister of State for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugee.
The Uganda Emergency Appeal covers a three-month initial emergency response for an influx of up to 60,000 refugees in Uganda.
“Uganda’s exemplary asylum policy must continue to be supported generously,” said Joel Boutroue, UNHCR Representative. “As interagency partners, we are requesting USD 47.8 million to address critical needs surging for protection, food, shelter and essential household items.”
Funding will also support urgently needed healthcare supplies, and water, sanitation and hygiene services required to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases.
From the front line of the response, the Executive Director of local NGO, Care and Assistance for Forced Migrants (CAFOMI), Francis Iwa, said, “while the world’s attention is focused on Ukraine, we urge for peace in the DRC. Failing this, interagency partners need additional resources and supplies to meet the humanitarian imperative of the people who have fled to Uganda.”
This emergency situation comes in addition to a severely underfunded refugee response addressing the basic needs of approximately 1.5 million refugees already present in the country. As of 31 March 2022, interagency partners report that only USD 41 million have been received against the Country Refugee Response Plan, covering 5 percent of the total USD 804 million funding needs for 2022.