UNHCR boosts local government capacity in Arua and Koboko districts

Representative praises exceptional generosity of the people of Uganda towards refugees


South Sudanese refugees arrive in Mvepi, Arua District. A quarter of the over 1 million South Sudanese refugees registered in Uganda are in Arua District.   © 

ARUA, Uganda (UNHCR) — UNHCR’s Representative in Uganda today praised the exceptional generosity of the people of Uganda towards refugees. “Despite receiving hundreds of thousands of refugees over the past two years, Uganda continues to keep its borders open, ensuring safe and dignified asylum for the women, children and men arriving daily,” he said.

Joel Boutroue was speaking at the official ceremony to hand over five vehicles to the district local governments of Arua and Koboko Districts. The ceremony was attended by Fredrick Lidri, on behalf of the Chief Administrative Officer for Arua District, Alongo Simon Loyumo, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Koboko, Dieudonne Idringi, Project Coordination Officer for Koboko, and Bik Lum, Head of UNHCR Sub Office Arua among others.

“Host communities are on the frontline of refugee response, compelled and yet willing to share resources like land, schools, health care facilities and water,” the UNHCR Representative said. “Our priority focus is therefore on supporting district authorities to enhance services in order to meet the needs of both refugees and host communities.”

“This is indeed a joyous occasion for us,” said Frederick Lidri of Arua District. “The strong equipment we have just received will bolster the work already underway as part of ReHoPE.” Speaking on behalf of Koboko District, Dieudonne Idringi added, “We deeply appreciate this support to improve our delivery of services to refugees and the local population, as well as to strengthen the government’s Settlement Transformative Agenda.”

The Settlement Transformative Agenda (STA) is a national initiative that aims to base refugee response on government-led sustainable solutions in refugee-hosting districts. UNHCR supports the STA through the UN-World Bank strategic framework that is commonly referred to as ReHoPE (Refugee and Host Population Empowerment). UNHCR works with the Prime Minister and District Local Governments, and is currently implementing 29 ReHoPE projects: 17 in Arua and 12 in Koboko.

UNHCR-supported ReHoPE projects in Arua District include classrooms and staff offices at Vurra Cope Primary School, which enrolls both refugee and local children. By building staff houses at Odobu health centre, ReHoPE is helping attract health workers and in turn improve health service delivery. In Koboko District, the rehabilitation of the 15.3 kilometre Kagoropa-Korokaya road in Kuluba Sub-county, along the border with South Sudan will improve service delivery for thousands of refugees entering Uganda. Housing units built at Busia police station near the border will make it easier to deploy police officers who are needed in larger numbers, to protect Ugandan nationals and refugees.

In handing over the vehicles to the two districts, UNHCR aims to strengthen their ability to assess needs and monitor the progress and impact of interventions by different actors. Initiatives to boost security, education and health service delivery at the district level contribute to maintaining asylum space in a context where communities are absorbing increasing numbers of refugees.

A quarter of the over 1 million South Sudanese refugees in Uganda reside in Arua District. 85% are women and children, thus most refugee households are female-headed. Children represent 64% of the total population. Significant numbers are separated from their families including unaccompanied minors. There are groups of extremely vulnerable refugees including those who are chronically ill, elderly people who are unaccompanied, and people living with physical and mental disabilities. Meanwhile, Koboko District has some 4,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo and is the entry point for many South Sudanese refugees arriving in Uganda.

With 1.4 million women, men and children requiring international protection Uganda is currently Africa’s leading refugee-hosting country in Africa, and ranks among the top five worldwide. The refugees originate in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, South Sudan and other countries.

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For more information please contact:

In Arua: Dorothy Lusweti, [email protected], +256 (0)780 140 415

In Kampala: Duniya Aslam Khan, [email protected], +256 (0)772 701 101