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Minister Okello Oryem Meets Troika Representatives (17.11.2017)

 

The meeting addressed the current political situation in South Sudan and the resultant refugee crisis in the neighboring countries, especially in Uganda.

KAMPALA, Uganda, November 17, 2017 – On November 15, 2017 the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Henry Oryem Okello met with Representatives of the South Sudan peace-guarantor Troika member countries (Norway, United Kingdom and the United States) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kampala. The Troika Representatives were Mr. Paul Sutphin (USA), Mr. Chris Trott (UK) and Mr. Ering Skjonsberg (Norway).

The meeting addressed the current political situation in South Sudan and the resultant refugee crisis in the neighboring countries, especially in Uganda.

The members of the Troika reiterated their strong support for the combined efforts of the African Union (AU), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and United Nations to end the conflict in South Sudan, and joined their recent calls on all armed parties, including the Government of South Sudan, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition, and other armed groups, to commit to a ceasefire.

They emphasized that the dire humanitarian crisis in South Sudan is the direct result of the conflict and called on all parties to cease violence against humanitarian workers and obstruction of humanitarian assistance.

The Troika endorsed the ongoing efforts by IGAD and praised Uganda’s peace initiative which aimed at bringing the warring parties to the negotiating table, positively noting that this initiative was endorsed by both parties to the conflict. The Troika expressed pleasure that Uganda is in full support of the IGAD process. In addition, they endorsed the work of the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan, and the deployment of its Regional Protection Force.

Hon Okello welcomed the visiting team and stressed the importance of the support being extended towards all the peace initiatives. He reassured them that Uganda will continue playing a mediatory and conciliatory role between the belligerent parties to ensure that an agreement is reached.

In attendance at the meeting were the Heads of Diplomatic Missions of the Troika resident in Kampala and senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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FAO calls for greater international support for Uganda’s growing number of refugees (31.08.2017)

FAO Director-General visits refugee settlements in Uganda’s North.

ROME, Italy, August 31, 2017 – The FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva called for greater funding for a sustainable response to the refugee crisis in Uganda, after concluding a visit today to refugee settlements in the country’s north.

The Director-General also reaffirmed FAO’s support to the Government of Uganda in its compassionate asylum policy under which land is allocated to refugees for shelter and cultivation.

“Uganda’s refugee model is an example to the world.  It is vital that funds be mobilized to support this effort so that refugees can provide food for themselves sooner rather than relying only on food aid, and so that refugees and their host communities can have a real opportunity to overcome hunger and poverty,” said Graziano da Silva.

“Uganda is giving not only food and land but hope,” he added.

Fastest-growing refugee crisis  
Uganda is host to the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world. Since July last year, more than one million South Sudanese refugees have crossed into Uganda. The refugees are predominantly women and young people and come from farming or livestock herding communities.

Graziano da Silva visited two refugee settlements, Agojo and Mungula 1, in Adjumani district near Uganda’s border with South Sudan.

At Agojo, the Director-General helped distribute crop and vegetable seeds to more than 1,000 refugee and host community households. This support will enhance families’ nutrition, and generate income from the sale of any surplus.  At Mungula 1, he inaugurated a micro-irrigation project that will provide the refugee and host community households with a reliable source of water for their crops and animals.

High-level dialogue
Prior to visiting the settlements, Graziano da Silva met with Uganda’s Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda.

“People don’t chose voluntarily to become refugees. We have a responsibility to help our brothers by giving them hope because it’s them today, but the situation could change tomorrow,” said Dr. Rugunda.

Under a new response plan, FAO is intensifying its efforts in providing livelihood assistance to refugees and host communities. The plan focuses on food and livestock production, nutrition, protecting the environment and enhanced technical support to the Government.

The Director-General’s visit comes after the UN Secretary General called on the donor community in June to strengthen their support to the refugee response. Uganda requires around $2 billion annually for 2017-2020 to address refugee needs, and donors have so far only pledged around $358 million.

 

South Sudan refugees in Uganda pass 1 million mark, UNHCR renews call for help (18.08.2017)

Over the past 12 months, an average of 1,800 South Sudanese have been arriving in Uganda every day.

GENEVA, Switzerland, August 18, 2017 – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is today reiterating its call to the international community for urgent additional support for the South Sudan refugee situation and Uganda in particular, where the number of refugees from South Sudan has now reached 1 million.

Over the past 12 months, an average of 1,800 South Sudanese have been arriving in Uganda every day. In addition to the million there, a million or even more South Sudanese refugees are being hosted by Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic.

In Uganda, more than 85 per cent of the refugees who have arrived there are women and children (below 18 years in age). Recent arrivals continue to speak of barbaric violence, with armed groups reportedly burning down houses with civilians inside, people being killed in front of family members, sexual assaults of women and girls, and kidnapping of boys for forced conscription.

With refugees still arriving in their thousands, the amount of aid we are able to deliver is increasingly falling short. For Uganda, US$674 million is needed for South Sudanese refugees this year, but so far only a fifth of this amount (21 per cent) has been received. Elsewhere in the region, the picture is only marginally better – in all US$883.5 million is needed for the South Sudan situation, but only US$250 million has been received.

The funding shortfall in Uganda is now significantly impacting the abilities to deliver life-saving aid and key basic services. In June, the World Food Programme was forced to cut food rations for refugees. Across settlements in northern Uganda, health clinics are being forced to provide vital medical care with too few doctors, healthcare workers and medicines. Schooling, meanwhile is also being impacted. Class sizes often exceed 200 pupils, with some lessons held in the open air. Many refugee children are dropping out of education as the nearest schools are too far away for them to easily access.

Since December 2013, when South Sudan’s crisis erupted in Juba, more than two million South Sudanese have fled to neighbouring countries, while another two million people are estimated to be internally displaced.

President Museveni’s speech showed his real sentiment at the Uganda Solidarity Summit on Refugees 2017

I don’t believe that President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni hold the Refugee Summit in Kampala this week out of solidarity. It was of an operation to secure his state the lost funds that the state has to raise through loans. So yesterday he had the massive speech for the event, which had lot of information, but for me this passage was telling why he had the summit and what value the refugees really have for him. You wouldn’t see them as bargain chips if you didn’t say it this way. Why do I say that, the districts with the refugee camps are in his mind deserving infrastructure, not supported by the state, but by the International Community. Therefore, it was held to raise sufficient funds for the refugees, but if he could, he could sponge of the funds. Not like the National Resistance Movement (NRM), though he was speaking in the beginning of this passage like it is NRM Regime who pays of all infrastructure, but the World Bank and others are giving either grants or direct loans to infrastructure projects.

That is why I’m kind of not surprised of the real solidarity would be pay the bills for the President and his own pledges, instead of really helping the refugees. They are just needed people to gain popularity abroad and solidarity for ones fleeing for refugee in Uganda. Instead of looking into the draconian laws of Uganda, the oppressive behavior of the NRM or even famine made by lacking governance in many districts in Uganda itself. That is why I particular looks into this part of his speech from the Solidarity Summit, as these words prove the value of the summit for the President himself.

The hosting districts of Uganda should also be rewarded. Especially in the area of the road infrastructure, the government of Uganda is already doing most of the development required. On account of many demands, however, there are certain roads that over-night become of high demand because of the sudden big numbers in the area on account of the influx of refugees. There are, in particular, two roads that should be bituminized but the government is not yet able to take on. These are: Moyo-Yumbe-Koboko, in the neighbourhood of the famous Bidi Bidi camp in Yumbe district that is hosting 272,168 refugees today; and Kabiingo-Rugaaga-Magabi-Rakai that starts from the famous Nakivaale Refugee Settlement camp that looked after the Rwanda refugees between 1960 and 1994 and is still hosting different waves of subsequent refugees” (…) “The Uganda government will, eventually, do these roads. If, however, the International Community was to expedite that process and we informed our people in the areas, they would understand that their hospitality has not been in vain” (Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, 23.06.2017).

You can really tell that the President has significant plans for using the solidarity and raised funds for needed infrastructure. Ugandan government wants to use the refugee situation to get funds for national projects and roads. That it just happens to be between the Refugee Settlements in the Northern Uganda. Where the South Sudanese refugees are settled because of the civil war in South Sudan. Certainly, the political stalemate are the ones that even President Museveni is involved in. Therefore, him trying to use it for road development.

Clearly, his real sentiment is for road development not helping the refugees. That is why the districts should be rewarded, not by the state itself, but the international community. If you ever wonder where his heart was, you got it right there. It is not like President Museveni has the refugee settlement for charity, more for leverage and use to get solidarity since the direct donor funds to his government has dwindled over the recent decade. So he has found another trick to get raised funds for his pledges. Peace.

Theji Da Adwad Deng Letter: “Resignation from SPLM-IO and Declaration for Rejoining the SPLM Mainstream (IG)” – 23.03.2017

Joint statement on behalf of the Government of Uganda and UNHCR: ‘Breaking Point’ imminent: Government of Uganda, UNHCR say help for South Sudan refugee inflow urgently needed (23.03.2017)

This year alone, more than 172,000 South Sudanese refugees have fled to Uganda, with new arrivals in March averaging more than 2,800 daily.

GENEVA, Switzerland, March 23, 2017 – The Government of Uganda and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi today jointly appealed to the international community for urgent and massive support for the thousands of South Sudan refugees who continue to arrive to Uganda every day, fleeing brutal conflict, compounded by the limited availability of food.

Uganda currently hosts more than 800,000 South Sudanese refugees. Among them are some 572,000 new arrivals who have poured into Uganda in desperate need of safety and help since 8 July 2016. With present rates of arrival, that figure will surpass a million before mid- 2017. This year alone, more than 172,000 South Sudanese refugees have fled to Uganda, with new arrivals in March averaging more than 2,800 daily.

“Uganda has continued to maintain open borders,” said Rt. Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda, Prime Minister of Uganda. “But this unprecedented mass influx is placing enormous strain on our public services and local infrastructure. We continue to welcome our neighbours in their time of need but we urgently need the international community to assist as the situation is becoming increasingly critical.”

“We are at breaking point. Uganda cannot handle Africa’s largest refugee crisis alone,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “The lack of international attention to the suffering of the South Sudanese people is failing some of the most vulnerable people in the world when they most desperately need our help.”

Chronic and severe underfunding has reached a point where critical life-saving help risks becoming dangerously compromised. Transit and reception facilities are rapidly becoming overwhelmed. Significant challenges are being faced in providing refugees with adequate food rations, health and educational services, and sufficient clean water; a dire situation further compounded by the onset of heavy rains. Currently, UNHCR urgently needs more than a quarter of a billion US dollars to support South Sudanese refugees in Uganda in 2017.

Uganda’s approach to dealing with refugees has long been among the most progressive anywhere on the African continent. Upon receiving refugee status, refugees are provided with small areas of land in settlements integrated within the local host community; a pioneering approach that enhances social cohesion and allows both refugees and host communities to live together peacefully. In Uganda’s Mid and South-West, land for these settlements is provided by Government. In northern Uganda, where the vast majority of South Sudanese refugees are being hosted, the land has been donated by the local host community, an outstanding display of generosity towards people fleeing war and conflict.

As a result Uganda was chosen as a role model for pioneering a comprehensive approach to refugee protection that complements humanitarian responses with targeted development action, benefiting both refugees and the communities hosting them. This was adopted as part of the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants at the UN General Assembly last year, and is now also being rolled out in other displacement crises – offering hope to millions of refugees worldwide. However, in the face of severe underfunding and the fastest-growing refugee emergency in the world, Uganda’s ability to realise a model that allows refugees to thrive now risks being jeopardized – and the future of the new comprehensive refugee response framework thrown into question.

Office of the Prime Minister, UN agencies and humanitarian organisations in Uganda issue appeal to end suffering of South Sudanese refugees (15.12.2016)

Adjumani Refugee Camp

Thousands of people continue to flee South Sudan to Uganda every day, 64% of whom are children under 18, leaving behind them tales of horrific violence.

KAMPALA, Uganda, December 15, 2016 – On the third anniversary of the outbreak of violence in South Sudan in December 2013, the Government of Uganda Office of the Prime Minister, six UN agencies and eleven humanitarian organisations in Uganda are appealing to the world to bring an end to the suffering of the South Sudanese people. With 527,472* South Sudanese refugees having fled to Uganda over the last three years, including more than 338,000* since July alone, it is vital that the international community comes together to support humanitarian organisations in delivering life-saving assistance to those who have been forced to flee their homes, and to take urgent action to find a solution to the conflict.

Thousands of people continue to flee South Sudan to Uganda every day, 64% of whom are children under 18, leaving behind them tales of horrific violence. Refugees report that armed groups operating in the Equatoria region are attacking villages, killing civilians, burning down houses, raping women and girls, and kidnapping young men and boys. People are reportedly being prevented from using major access roads out of South Sudan, forcing many to walk through the bush for days, often without access to food and water. New arrivals report that in the weeks and months ahead, they expect thousands more will follow them to Uganda.

New arrivals are provided with shelter, food, water and an environment where they can live in safety however, the humanitarian response to South Sudanese refugees in Uganda continues to face significant challenges due to chronic and severe underfunding. Currently, just 36% of the US$251 million needed for 2016 has been received. This is creating significant gaps in the response which threatens to compromise the abilities of humanitarian organisations to provide life-saving assistance and basic services.

In August, this year, a new settlement was opened in Bidibidi, Yumbe district to accommodate the thousands of new arrivals. In the space of a matter of months, humanitarian organisations have transformed Bidibidi from empty bushland in to one of the largest refugee-hosting areas in the world.

Uganda continues to show outstanding generosity and hospitality towards South Sudanese refugees, at a time when the country is hosting the highest number of refugees in its history and is receiving two additional refugee influxes from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi. Uganda has maintained open borders to allow refugees to reach safety and, as part of its settlement approach, provides them with land to build new homes and grow crops. Refugees in Uganda enjoy a range of rights and freedoms that allow them to gain employment, start businesses and make positive economic contributions to their host communities.

Host communities in northern Uganda are to be particularly commended for having donated the land on which settlements hosting South Sudanese refugees are located. In recognition of the solidarity shown by host communities, as a guiding principle, approximately 30% of the humanitarian response directly benefits Ugandans through improvements to local infrastructure.

We are grateful to our donors for their contributions so far but more must be done to end the suffering of the South Sudanese people. We urge the international community, both those already engaged and new partners to the response, to expedite their contributions of funds and expertise to ensure we can meet the needs of South Sudanese refugees in Uganda. With political solutions to the crisis in short supply, further efforts are needed to find long-term solutions that will allow these refugees to rebuild their lives in safety and dignity.  It remains vital that those with influence over the political leadership in South Sudan use all available channels to encourage the warring factions to come together in dialogue and bring an end to the bloodshed. For the sake of the South Sudanese people, the world cannot afford to fail.

* Figures are based on biometric registrations in the Government’s Refugee Information Management System, and manual emergency registration, headcounts and wrist-banding for the emergency influx of new arrivals. 

Uganda: Statement by Minister of Relief, Distaster Preparedness and Refugees, 13th December, 2016 Following the Verification Process in some of the Refugees Settlements (13.12.2016)

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On the International Day of Democracy, UNPO Vice-President Delivers a Statement at the Human Rights Council (15.09.2016)

ethiopia-15-09-2016

Each year on the 15 September, the world celebrates the International Day of Democracy, highlighting the global importance of maintaining democratic values for nations and peoples. As one of its fundamental principles, UNPO is committed to advocating and supporting democracy around the world. Democracy is a form of government by and for the people, where freedom of expression, protection of human rights and the rule of law ensure that all its citizens are treated equally.  For many nations and peoples, however, autocratic governments not only fail to uphold democratic values but also are the very perpetrators of gross human rights violations. On this day, the international community turns its attention to victims of undemocratic governments and reflect on what can be done to promote inclusive, participatory, representative, accountable and transparent political systems. 

On this year’s International Day of Democracy, UNPO would like to draw particular attention to the case of Ethiopia. Despite its complete lack of democratic setup, the country is generally hailed as an African democratic role model and a beacon of stability in an otherwise troubled region. Aiming to raise awareness of the human rights abuses in Ethiopia committed by the authoritarian Tigray-dominated regime, Mr Abdirahman Mahdi, the leading representative of the Ogaden People’s Rights Organization and UNPO Vice-President, spoke today [15 September 2016] at the 33rd United Nations Human Rights Council on behalf of the Nonradical Party, Transnational and Transparty.

In his speech, Mr. Mahdi highlighted that “while Ethiopia, in theory, has a federalist constitution that guarantees wide-ranging autonomy for the nations-based federal states and equal participation in national politics – in practice almost all the nations have no real say in political, economic and military affairs, instead these fall under the sole control of a Tigray-dominated elite, who does not shy away from using excessive violence”.

Ethiopia is but one case of many governments that adopt features to portray itself as democratic to the international community when, in reality, the complete opposite is true. The Ethiopian government has denied its people all the fundamental democratic rights promulgated in its constitution. Elections are consistently rigged and external observers are banned from coming to Ethiopia to monitor them. Armed and security forces extend their reach through all levels all society while trying to showcase to the world that a federal system has ensured the right to self-determination to its ethnic groups, as stated in the constitution.

However, 500 people were killed since November 2015 in various protests, including the most recent protests outside of Qilinti jail against the detention of Oromo politicians and activists which, according to Mr. Mahdi, is “the latest evidence of the readiness of the government to exert brute force against civilians”. Systematic use of rape as a weapon by the Ethiopian army and paramilitary forces as a way to exercise total control through fear and violence was also highlighted by Mr Mahdi in his speech at the HRC. In addition to systematic persecution, the victims of the Ethiopian regime are silenced due to the criminalization of free speech, impeding the news of their plight to be widespread throughout the international community. Journalists from abroad are banned access and local journalists are jailed, while NGOs on the ground are forbidden to report the facts.

Against this background, recently the Oromo athlete Feyisa Lilesa’s powerful gesture of resistance at the 2016 Rio Olympics brought much-needed media attention to the plight of the Oromos and the other ethnic groups in Ethiopia. Concomitantly, the European Commission’s decision not to send money from its Emergency Fund to Ethiopia in consideration of the serious violations of freedom of speech and right to protest in Ethiopia contributed to drawing the international community’s attention to the lack of democracy in the country. On the International Day of Democracy, UNPO reaffirms its commitment to its core values and will continue to raise awareness of violations committed by states which, in many cases, claim to be “young democracies” to conceal its appalling human rights records and dictatorial structure.

South Sudan Conflict: Interview with presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny (Youtube-Clip)

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