KAMPALA, The growing refugee crisis in Uganda has prompted a visit by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to Kampala on June 22-23, for a fundraising event to get the international donor community - which is already inundated with several other humanitarian requests - to raise $8 billion.

Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda says the $8 billion is required over a four-year period so that Uganda can relieve pressure that the refugee influx is putting upon the economy, infrastructure and the environment.

With 5.5 million Syrian refugees in need of assistance and a famine affecting 20 million people in Somalia, South Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia, the international community already has its hands full.

But Rosa Malango, the UN resident co-ordinator in Uganda, said that with the crisis around East Africa, the international community should increase humanitarian funding.

"Uganda cannot and should not handle Africa's largest refugee crisis alone," she added, alluding to the increase in refugees streaming into Uganda, from just over 500,000 in June last year to 1.2 million now.

Extreme poverty

Malango adds that the UN predicts that given the trend of an average 2,000 refugees coming into Uganda on daily basis, their number will most likely grow by a further 400,000 before 2017 is out. Uganda operates a settlement model that provides refugees with land to grow crops and education and freedom to work, even outside of the refugee camps.

Already, the land being given to refugees has been reduced to less than half an acre per family.

Dr Rugunda says that the large number flocking in means the country and agencies will no longer be able to provide income generating activities, food, counselling services, security and infrastructure to the new comers, if the necessary $8 billion is not provided.

The refugees being hosted by Uganda include Rwandans, Somalis, Burundians, Congolese and South Sudanese.

At close to 900,000, South Sudanese constitute the largest number of refugees in Uganda.

Malango says that as a result of the huge refugee numbers, public services are overwhelmed.


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