Hungarian prime minister hails Uganda for hosting refugees

By Moses Kidandi

The minister of state for relief and disaster preparedness Musa Ecweru has urged African countries to emulate Uganda and provide homes for the displaced people in the region.

Ecweru said these people are mainly from Africa and find it very easy to adopt to the environment, climate and the culture of any African country.

He made the remarks during a joint press conference with Hungarian government officials at the prime minister’s office who are on a fact finding visit to refugee camps in Uganda.

For his part, Balazs Orban who represented the Hungarian prime minister’s office hailed Uganda for it’s political stability which has enabled it to host a large number of refugees.

He pledged to support countries who are hosting the refugees.

Uganda is home to over 1.3 million registered refugees from countries such as DR Congo and South Sudan.

Court send Congolese national to Luzira over rape

By Sania Babirye

A Congolese refugee living in Uganda has been sentenced to twenty three years in Luzira prison over rape.

Kampala high High Court judge Jane Francis Abodo sentenced 31 year old Mbusa Kamuhinda after she found him guilty of raping the victim whose name has been withheld in August 2017 at Bukoto in Nakawa division Kampala district .

While sentencing him, Justice Jane Francis Abodo ruled that women must be protected from such criminals by giving such convicts custodial long sentences.

She also stated that such rape cases are rampant in her court jurisdiction and there is need for court to hand the convicts deterrent sentences to other would be offenders.

In conclusion Justice Abodo stated that sexual violence against women should not be tolerated and courts of law need to act by keeping away such criminals from their victims and from the country at large .

WHO pledges to help Ministry of health fight cholera

By Daudi Zirimala

The World Health Organization (WHO), has pledged its support to ministry of health to encounter the outbreak of Cholera in country most especially in the refugee host communities.

According to WHO Country Representative Dr. Tomas Tegen, they are committed to counter epidemics and emergencies in Uganda by providing necessary support in terms of human resource, funds among others to reduce impact of emergencies including loss of lives.

Dr. Tegen says capacity building is required because influx of refugees in Uganda will consistently impact of lives of Uganda if epidemics are not catered for.

Musisi urges donors to be mindful of locals in areas where refugees have resettled

By Wasswa Deo

The Executive Director of Kampala  Capital City Authority, Jenifer Semakula  Musisi has urged donors who are supporting refugees in Kampala slums to pay attention to problems affecting the locals in the communities where refugees have resettled.

According to Musisi, locals in the communities  have been heard complaining that donors are paying much attention to refugees. The KCCA Executive director therefore is calling upon the donors to be extend help to the locals too.

Jennifer sounded the call  during a meeting with the different donors  that was held to discuss development of the city.

Kampala is currently hosting over 103000 refugee influxes with a bigger percentage from Congo and Somalia of 44% and 21% respectively.

Authorities worry as refugees deplete forests in Adjumani

Jane Amatriyo, a mother of two fled from the Eastern Equatorial state of South Sudan and crossed into Uganda in October 2016.  She is a refugee in Agojo refugee settlement, one of the 18 settlements in Adjumani district.

Every morning, Amatriyo wakes up at the crack of dawn, to collect wood from forested areas near the camps. This, she uses to burn charcoal, which is now her main source of livelihood besides the aid from humanitarian agencies. She sells a sack of charcoal at 15,000 Shillings.

The nature of her work is carried out by hundreds of other settlers, in the district which has hosted refugees for the last 28-years. Over the years, the tree cover in the district has been fading due to indiscriminate cutting of trees for firewood and commercial charcoal production, bush burning and land opening.

District records show that more than 116 square kilometres of land, which were previously wooded areas, had to be cleared for the creation of refugee’s settlements in the district. Today, only 20 percent of the wooded areas still have trees, according to Adjumani District Natural Resources Officer Charles Giyaya.

He says that district has lost 15 million trees as a result of human activity by both refugees and aborigines.

At 110,000 people, the number of refugees is almost at par with the locals in the host community who are estimated to be 130, 000 people. All these are competing for wood, water and land within a very limited space.

Giyaya adds the settlement of refugees has stretched the general loss of vegetation cover, depletion of groundwater sources and land degradation.  According to Giyaya, more than 100 boreholes have been drilled in the district in order to meet the water needs of the growing population. This, he adds that drastically affected the water table in the area.

Giyaya adds that farmers in the district have experienced a change in the duration of the dry season, a development which is putting lives on the line because the majority of the population in the area entirely depends on farming.

“The people in the host communities are facing challenges because the environment has been destroyed as a result of hosting refugee settlements,” he observes.

However, initiatives to mitigate the outcomes of hosting refugees on the environment have been initiated in the district. Among them is the introduction of energy stoves, believed to be a better option compared to the traditional three-stone cooking method.

Charity Gume, a 32-year-old refugee from South Sudan says that the stoves use less firewood compared to the traditional method. “The stoves can use one piece of firewood to cook more than one thing. They are better because since they are closed, the heat from the firewood is trapped within the confines of the stove.”

In addition to using energy stoves, the district and the Office of the Prime Minister have embarked on a campaign to protect certain tree species, like shea-nut trees in the district.

Denish Odongo, the Livelihood and Environment Coordinator, Lutheran World Foundation, a relief NGO located in Adjumani says that they are carrying out tree planting activities in the district to replace the cut trees.

“We are working with the refugees and people in the host communities to replant trees. Both the settlements and host communities rely on wood a lot for everyday use.”

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights together with the Office of the Prime Minister has also planted at least one million trees on 860 acres of land in the district. The major species of trees that have been planted are the senna, eucalyptus, markhanmia, teak, gmelina, leucen, neem, melia, khaya, grandifoliolia, grafted fruits, thevetia and acacia macrothyrsus.




France’s Boutroue names UNHCR boss in Uganda

By Gloria Nakiyimba
Joel Boutroue has been appointed the new United Nations High commission for Refugees representative in Uganda. Mr. Joël Boutroue a French national who is already in the country replaces Katande Bonwell who completed his assignment as UNHCR Representative in Uganda at end of March 2018, and will take up the position of Head of the UNHCR Regional Service Centre in Nairobi.
Mr. Boutroue,  has  more than 30 years of experience in the United Nations system and in the humanitarian and development world. He has worked with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), and has been UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, as well as Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General. He has also served in senior advisory roles to UN Member States.
At such a critical time, with continuing influxes of refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and from South Sudan, Mr. Boutroue will lead UNHCR’s support to the Government of Uganda and ensure timely and efficient assistance to refugees. Uganda is host to more than one million refugees from South Sudan, and the figures keep swelling due to fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo which has forced many people to flee their country in search for asylum in Uganda

More than 200 Congolese refugees enter Uganda

More than 200 Congolese nationals have crossed to Kanungu district following clashes between Mai Mai militias and the Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo- FARDC.

The fighting broke out on Tuesday in Ishaha, Rutshuru territory, North Kivu Province claiming the lives of nine government soldiers and three Mai-Mai militias. Four government soldiers were injured in the fighting.

According to information obtained by URN, the Mai-Mai fighters staged a surprise attack on the 3411th Regiment base in Ishasha where they looted weapons. The heavy gunfire pushed several Congolese nationals into Kanungu district via Ishasha border.

They are currently camped at Karukara trading center in Rukoora cell in Kihembe parish in Kanyantorogo Sub County. Uganda and DRC share a common border, which is separated by no man’s land stretching about two Kilometers.

Ely Maate, the Kigezi Region Police spokesperson, told URN on Wednesday evening that more refugees were still crossing into Uganda. He however, said the fighting hasn’t affected business on the Ugandan side of the border.

According to Maate, Police have teamed up with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to transfer the refugees to Matanda refugee transit camp for registration pending transfer to Rwamwanja resettlement camp.

Major Peter Mugisa, the Second Division UPDF spokesperson, says UPDF is on high alert to maintain peace in the area.




Arua school struggles to educate refugees, numbers are overwhelming

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary General may have visited Arua last week, but it might take hours for Inyau Primary School to benefit from such a high-profile visit.

Guterres, who was in Uganda for the UN-backed Solidarity Summit on Refugees, on Thursday briefly visited Inyau on his way to Imvepi Refugee Settlement, home to over 100,000 refugees from South Sudan.

Located 57km from Arua town,  Inyau primary school is a Universal Primary Education school in Ijako Village, Lugbari Parish; Odupi Sub County. Being the nearest primary school to the refugee settlement, thousands of refugee children have flocked the school for lessons.

Hosting refugees appears to have had a toll on Inyau Primary School. The school has only nine teachers taking charge of 1,642 pupils. Of these, 1,050 are refugees. This has impacted on pupil assessment leading to poor performance.

Charles Draga, the School head teacher, says the numbers are overwhelming and have stretched the meagre resources including the seven classrooms and four toilet facilities.

According to Draga, the school has 896 boys and 746 girls. Boys share two latrines while girls share four which he says are not enough. Pupils sit on the floor while others stand due to shortage of furniture.

In an interview with the school head teacher, on average each classroom has 240 pupils compared to 55 the classes are designed for. He says that at the school, the conditions have worsened due to high numbers of pupils.

Draga notes that because majority of the pupils in the school are refugees, their attention span is low since the school doesn’t provide them with lunch.

“They leave earlier than expected. Few look healthy and others look really weak because of the hunger and other conditions,” Draga says.

Even with the overwhelming pupil numbers, Inyau primary school is yet to receive additional funding from government to take care of the pupils. From the previous pupil registration, Draga says that government has been giving the school about 800,000 Shillings quarterly as subvention.

He however says that they have not received any additional funding since the influx of refugees, something that has put pressure on the available facilities including toilets.

Ahead of Guterres’ visit to the Imvepi, the school benefited from construction of four temporary toilet structures.

While the world pays attention to the refugees in different settlement camps, Draga’s attention is on managing thousands of pupils in a school with space enough to accommodate less than half the number.




UNICEF receives 8Bn to help with the growing refugee crisis in Uganda

An emergency nutrition and education response to the refugee crisis in Uganda by the UN Children’s Agency-UNICEF has received a boost of 8 Billion Shillings thanks to the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).

More than 950,000 refugees have crossed into Uganda since the start of the conflict in from South Sudan in December 2013, driving the refugee population in Uganda to 1.3 million people. At least 750,000 of these arrived after July 2016.

“With over 2,000 South Sudanese refugees arriving in Uganda every day, Uganda is now host to the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world,” Isabelle D’Haudt, ECHO’s Humanitarian Advisor for Uganda said in a statement issued this morning.

The ECHO contribution will enable UNICEF to provide nutritional screening for all children at refugee entry points, appropriate treatment and care for severely malnourished children, Vitamin A micro-nutrients and deworming medicine for children, and iron/folate supplementation to pregnant and breastfeeding women. The nutrition intervention is estimated to reach nearly 200,000 beneficiaries.

A recent food security and nutrition assessment conducted in the refugee hosting districts shows high malnutrition rates, stunted development due to chronic malnutrition and high levels of anemia among children and women.

Similarly, in the education sector, in both early childhood development (ECD) centers and primary schools, there are vast needs ranging from inadequate classrooms, teaching materials and latrines, among other needs.

“Considering 60 percent of all South Sudanese refugees in Uganda are under the age of 18 and 56 percent of the population in all South Sudanese refugee-hosting districts in the country are children, children are the face of the South Sudanese refugee crisis in Uganda,” Aida Girma, UNICEF’s Representative in Uganda said.

For education, UNICEF will construct seven new ECD centres as well as upgrade 15 ECD centres from a temporary to semi-permanent state, which will provide multi-sectorial quality early childhood development to around 5,000 young children.

As at May 2017, UNICEF’s response to South Sudanese refugees and host communities in Uganda has supported more than 135,000 children with vaccinations against measles, over 70,000 children with vaccinations against polio, nearly 185,000 people with clean water and 9,000 severely malnourished children with therapeutic feeding treatment.

More than 12,000 children who have been separated from their parents and families have been supported with family tracing and reunification services, while another 85,000, children and adolescents have had an opportunity to access education and nearly 50,000 young children to access critical Early Childhood Development services.





By Alice Lubwama

The government of Uganda together with UN agencies will next month host the solidarity summit 2017 on refugees where they plan to raise 2billion dollars to support refugees and humanitarian activities in
the country.

Addressing a joint press conference in Kampala today, the prime minister of Uganda, Ruhakana Rugunda called for agent full support from all nations and development agencies in raising the 2billion to
support the humanitarian activities.

Uganda currently hosts 1.2 million refugees and expects to receive 400,000 by the end of this year.

Photo Credit: VOA News