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RI Report: The South Sudanese refugee influx on Northern Uganda and the strain of resources!

There is a massive surge of Refugees from South Sudan, as the crisis is prolonged, the influx of rebellion from the SPLM/A, and SPLM/A-IO, therefore the villagers and farmers will flee the war-torn republic. However, the Ugandan hospitality to these fleeing foreign citizens is more than what happens in the Western Hemisphere and Europe. Uganda has on average taken in 2,400 South Sudanese refugees. This has even created the largest refugee site in the world in Bidibidi on the borders to the Republic.

What this report show’s isn’t just the numbers of South Sudanese that has had to flee the republic, but also the challenges both the Ugandan Authorities, the UN Organizations together with NGOs are meeting. These isn’t small fries, this is the big bank and needed funds to secure the safety of these refugees. Even though the NGOs are struggling with the interference and authorities for their controlling efforts from the Office of Prime Minister and the Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Ruganda who has to be informed and accept the works from them.

Just take look!

The amount of Refugees in Uganda:

“Uganda currently faces the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world. From July 2016 through January 2017, more than 512,000 South Sudanese refugees arrived in the country – an average of roughly 2,400 per day. This staggering rate of influx into one country, sustained over such a long period, has few precedents in recent years. As a consequence, Uganda has now become the top-ranking refugee- hosting country in Africa, with more than a million refugees in total. It also hosts what is likely the world’s largest refugee site, Bidibidi, with more than 270,000 residents” (Boyce & Vigaud-Walsh, P: 4, 2017).

Continued crisis in South Sudan:

“In short, there is no reason to believe that South Sudanese will be able to return home anytime soon, or that the influx of new arrivals will dissipate. Indeed, UNHCR currently projects that the number of South Sudanese refugees will increase from just over 600,000 today to 925,000 by the end of 2017” (Boyce & Vigaud-Walsh, P: 6, 2017).

Lacking shelter for the refugees:

“Humanitarians told RI that, per Ugandan refugee policy, refugees are expected to build their own shelters. This has the benefit of allowing refugees to design shelters that they want to live in, but it creates challenges when the shelter materials they need (such as lumber and grass) are in short supply, or when refugees physically cannot build their shelters or do not know how. Shelter kits and construction assistance for vulnerable refugees are insufficient and leave refugees – especially women and girls – at risk. For example, in Palorinya settlement, RI met an 18-year-old woman from Yei who came to Uganda alone after her grandmother went missing. RI accompanied her as she collected what she could of her shelter kit and transported it to her plot of land, where she had no instruction or assistance in assembling the shelter as dusk approached. She lamented to RI that she was likely to sleep in the open for an unforeseeable amount of time until she secured assistance” (Boyce & Vigaud-Walsh, P: 8, 2017).

Lacking funds and materials:

“Aid agencies reported that when core relief items were distributed, they nearly always included materials specific to women and girls’ needs – among them, dignity and maternity kits and hand-held solar lamps. Women interviewed did lament shortages of these materials but appreciated that such items were somewhat available, including at reception centers where refugees sometimes have to spend the night prior to transport to a settlement. In other words, it appears that funding shortages in Uganda did not lead to the prioritization of other relief materials at the expense of women’s dignity kits, as RI has unfortunately seen in many emergency situations. This recognition that women’s needs are as important as all others is fundamental to the Safe from the Start approach” (Boyce & Vigaud-Walsh, P: 11, 2017).

Ugandan Government:

“Another humanitarian explained that while Ugandan officials have not discussed “capping” arrivals from South Sudan, refugee fatigue remains a possibility, particularly at the local level. “In the beginning, as one district got an economic boost from the refugees, competition arose between the districts over who could receive more refugees,” the humanitarian said. “But the money for aid now is not what it was, and district governments are noticing this. Expectations are very high and may not be met. That could turn the tide.” This highlights the need for development support in refugee-hosting areas, which can be targeted at host populations in a way that refugee aid cannot” (Boyce & Vigaud-Walsh, P: 16, 2017). “According to multiple senior humanitarians with whom the RI team spoke, OPM exercises tight control over where NGOs can intervene and in which sectors they can work. NGOs are obliged to obtain permission from OPM in order to operate in refugee settlements. Further, OPM is a signatory to all partnership agreements between NGOs and UN agencies. Such measures are not unusual in refugee situations; however, humanitarians told RI that OPM personnel had used these measures as a means to interfere in decisions about partnerships and contracting. RI was told of multiple cases in which OPM personnel had requested that UN agencies or NGOs establish partnerships with specific national NGOs or contract with specific companies. Some humanitarians said that they had accepted this arrangement with resignation. “We do not have full control over our implementing partners, and there are some that we would not have picked otherwise,” one humanitarian said. “When the government disagrees with us, we lose … Everything becomes difficult at the institutional level if we put our foot down and try to say no to a partner.” Another humanitarian recounted that their aid agency had hired a private contractor after “so much pressure” from OPM staff, and that the contractor’s subsequent work was delayed and of poor quality, forcing the aid agency to take a loss. When humanitarians have resisted OPM’s entreaties, the government’s reaction has sometimes been unhelpful: RI was told of cases in which aid organizations were allegedly denied access to settlements after rejecting a contractor that OPM suggested, and of cases where OPM allegedly delayed approving projects for months because of disagreements over the choice of a contractor” (Boyce & Viguad-Walsh, P: 17-18, 2017).

Important recommendations:

“The Ugandan government should:

**Respect the competitive and transparent nature of partnership selection and contracting, and fully abide by ethical standards, including the provisions of Uganda’s Leadership Code Act;

  • • Ensure that any complaints pertaining to the management of the refugee response are fully investigated by the Inspectorate of Government and that any informers and witnesses are provided with appropriate protection; and
  • • Finalize the acceptance of the World Bank’s financing package in support of refugee-hosting areas.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Uganda’s Office of the Prime Minister should:

  • • Prioritize partnership applications from specialized trauma counseling agencies; and
  • • Review procedures for identifying people with specific needs at border points to determine if they are in compliance with UNHCR’s Emergency Handbook guidance, and conduct refresher trainings for all personnel responsible for such identification” (Boyce & Vigaud-Walsh, P: 3, 2017).

There we’re many more things to take from this, but there are just enough one man can focus from a hard-hitting report like this. Like all actors and people has to change as these challenges isn’t something that comes easy, the levels of refugees and their experiences needs treatment, food and water, they need a fresh start and peace. That doesn’t come easy, as many of them wants to go home, but the civil war and uncertainty leaves them in a limbo in Uganda. The United Nations Organizations and Office of Prime Minister of Uganda can only go so far. What is also worrying is that the locals and Ugandans expected to earn trade on refugees, instead of seeing the volatile situation the refugees are in and the hostile environment they left. As the Ugandan Authorities sent their army before the last peace-agreement between SPLM/A and SPLM-IO.

The Refugee crisis in Northern Uganda is serious and shouldn’t be forgotten, the donations and spending from international society should be a priority as the expected amount of refugees might be up to as high as 1 million South Sudanese by the end of 2017. No country or state has the economy to facilitate that; even the United States cannot afford refugees right now. If you interpret their bans of Syrian refugees right now! While the Ugandan republic has the ability and capacity to host this massive amounts of refugees, with the hesitation of getting knowledge of all activity from the UN Organizations and NGOs in the Refugee camps and fields. Peace.

Reference:

Boyce, Michael & Vigaud-Walsh, Francisca – ‘GETTING IT RIGHT: PROTECTION OF SOUTH SUDANESE REFUGEES IN UGANDA’ (March 2017), Refugees International – Field Report

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