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GERMAN SCHOLARS COMMEND UGANDA FOR ITS OPEN REFUGEE POLICY

Thursday, 31st August 2017
The Good Country Guide: Uganda - Panel Discussion
Uganda has been commended for its open refugee policies at a time where other nations have implemented harsh restrictions on immigration and threatened to close their borders. This was at the International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy in Africa 2017 that took place at the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin from 16th to 20th August 2017.

The Symposium, whose theme was "The Political, Economic and Cultural Dimensions" featured Uganda under the 'Good Country Guide' series. According to Mr. Bruno Farace, Programme Coordinator, the purpose of this series is to find and promote innovative solutions to global problems.

Mr. Fred Moses Mukhooli, Charge d' Affaires a.i., in his speech at the Symposium said that Uganda's refugee management system which is being hailed as one of the best globally has been anchored on four main pillars namely: national stability, a hospitable host population, a conducive policy environment and a humane legal system.

He informed his audience that the Government of Uganda had for the first time in the history of the Republic integrated refugee protection and management into the broader national development context by incorporating it into the National Development Plan II 2015/2016-2019/2020. He said that Refugees are an important part of the Ugandan national development plan and are treated as an opportunity rather than a threat. The National Development Plan II includes a refugee-specific strategy known as the Settlement Transformative Agenda (STA). The STA is an initiative led by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) Refugee Department that aims to foster sustainable livelihoods for refugees and host communities and to create an enabling environment for refugees to live in safety, dignity and in harmony with the host communities. The STA complements the Joint United Nations-World Bank Refugee and Host Population Empowerment (UN-WB ReHoPE) strategic framework that also is integrated into the UNDAF 2016-2020 in support of the NDP II. 

Mr. Mukhooli said that the 2006 Refugee Act and 2010 Refugee Regulations provide the legal and regulatory framework enabling refugees with the Right to Work and Freedom of Movement. Refugees have freedoms such as freedom of movement, free access to services available to Ugandans except engaging in Uganda's national politics etc., access to land for self-reliance by those refugees who would like to engage in production, equality before the law, right to return voluntarily etc. He added that nothing restores human dignity than the right to fend for oneself.

He observed that the hosting of refugees comes with challenges such as apprehension by some members of the international community to funding humanitarian programs globally and Uganda in particular where the annual UNHCR per capita funding per refugee per year has since reduced from 0.50 US Cents to the current 0.30 US Cents per refugee per year. This is a cause of concern which requires all nature of efforts to address the declining trends to avoid desperation which itself may result into other international challenges such as youth radicalization.

As a way forward, Mr. Mukhooli emphasized that the government of Uganda was committed to progressively making asylum in Uganda as humane as can be possible and would continue to champion the cause of refugees at every opportunity regionally or internationally but shall also expect meaningful support from its friends in the global village.

He noted that Uganda's hosting of the Solidarity Summit on Refugees in Kampala from 22nd - 23rd June 2017, presented a great opportunity to continuously engage with regional and continental blocks like EAC, IGAD and African Union etc to compel leaders in affected countries to comply with democratic principles and ceasefire. The Summit was able to raise 358 million dollars of the 2 billion dollars it was aiming for.

Source: Uganda Embassy, Berlin