UNHCR's Executive Committee Chairperson Ambassador Salim Baddoura, Concludes Visit to Uganda

UNHCR's Executive Committee Chairperson Ambassador Salim Baddoura, Concludes Mission Visit to Uganda

UNHCR's Executive Committee Chairperson Ambassador Salim Baddoura speaking with humanitarian partners during a visit to the Nyakabande Transit Centre in Kisoro, south-western Uganda.  © UNHCR/Yonna Tukundane

The Chairperson of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency’s Executive Committee, Ambassador Salim Baddoura of Lebanon, concluded his five-day mission to Uganda today.

During his one-year term, he chose to visit Uganda - the largest refugee hosting country in Africa -to highlight the situation and the need for additional support. The Chairperson’s visit from Geneva is the first annual mission of UNHCR’s Executive Committee Chair after an interruption of several years due to the COVID pandemic.

He met with the Prime Minister, Ministers in charge of refugees and other Government officials, where he pledged to echo the concern that the international community must demonstrate greater solidarity and responsibility sharing for the refugee crisis in Uganda. The concern was raised by Uganda’s Prime Minister Right Honourable Robinah Nabbanja, who highlighted the country’s progressive refugee policy, but lamented the underfunding of the refugee response led by the Government and UNHCR.  Currently, Uganda's Refugee Response Plan is critically underfunded straining resources in refugee hosting districts. 

UNHCR’s Representative in Uganda, Joel Boutroue appreciated the government for including refugees in national systems such as the National Development Plans and Sector Plans like health, education, water, environment and livelihoods, in line with the country’s pledges on the Global Compact on Refugees.

Ambassador Baddoura traveled to Rwamwamnja refugee settlement in Kamwenge district, which is home to 80,000 refugees, mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and 40,000 host community members.

While there, he met with refugees and the host community, appreciating their experience and the tangible impact of the coordinated investments of humanitarian and development actors to support both communities through new water systems and improved school and health infrastructure shared by the hosting and refugee communities.  He heard from refugees and Ugandans who now thrive because of USAID funded efforts to improve their livelihoods.

However, he also appreciated the many challenges that remain. During his trip, the Ambassador also visited new arrivals at Nyakabande Transit Center in Kisoro district.  There he witnessed the emergency response to an ongoing influx to Uganda from the DRC.  More than 23,000 refugees have arrived in Kisoro since 28 March 2022.

“No one choses to be a refugee.  And no country chooses to host them.  However, I am moved that Uganda and its people have chosen to remain human and maintain their values in the face of human suffering,” said UNHCR’s Executive Committee Chair Ambassador Salim Baddoura in his message to the district leaders, refugees and host communities.

“The generosity of the people of Uganda, their values and morals are the bedrock of this country. We thank you for this, and we will make the voice of the people of Uganda heard,” he added.

UNHCR's Executive Committee Chair will share his experience in Uganda with the international community during UNHCR's Standing Committee meeting in June 2022.  

Over 1.5 million refugees from South Sudan, the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi are hosted in Uganda, making it Africa's largest refugee-hosting country and among the top five largest refugee-hosting country globally.

Uganda’s Refugee Response Plan brings together 68 partners and calls for USD 804 million for 2022 to address critical needs for protection, food, shelter, and essential household items.

The Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Program is comprised of 107 UN Member States plus Observers. It advises the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on protection and programmatic issues and approves the organization’s annual budget.

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