Denmark’s support to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in Uganda means new refugee arrivals can receive healthcare support, sanitation and a safe place to sleep.
110,625 refugees have fled to Uganda so far this year from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo). This is in addition to the 1.5 million already in the country at the start of 2022, making Uganda the largest refugee hosting country in Africa.
Despite the increasing numbers of refugees seeking safety in Uganda – and the corresponding growth in needs – UNHCR’s operation in Uganda is facing a funding gap that jeopardizes the important gains made in refugee inclusion and self-reliance. In addition, it creates a risk to the capacity to provide basic humanitarian assistance as well as education and livelihood opportunities.
This year, Denmark has contributed more than 8 M USD to UNHCR’s Uganda operation to address the protracted situation and support innovative solutions, and additionally 2 M USD was recently allocated to Uganda from Denmark’s Emergency Reserve Fund. The timely and vital contributions from Denmark thus come at an important time for the operation, enabling UNHCR to strengthen the aid to and protection of refugees who have fled their homes due to violence and conflict.
In Uganda’s Kisoro district, where UNHCR has a temporary transit and holding center, UNHCR has distributed blankets, sleeping mats, soap to over 30,000 refugees from DR Congo, and sanitary pads to women. In addition, UNHCR is fast-tracking the relocation of all asylum-seekers at the holding center. UNHCR and partners are also providing solar lamps, kitchen sets and mosquito nets.
92% of refugees and asylum-seekers in Uganda live in settlements. UNHCR is providing poles and plastic sheeting to construct new shelters for a better standard of living for new arrivals. Funding also enables UNHCR to construct latrines and bathing shelters as well as strengthen the absorption capacity of existing settlements for the relocation of new arrivals.
Whilst fleeing violence in DR Congo, women and girls journeying towards Uganda for safety risk falling victim to rape and sexual violence. UNHCR is providing gender-based violence awareness sessions, to both women and men, with a large focus on preventative measures, reaching over 197,000 people. Psychosocial support is also provided for survivors of gender-based violence.
Pregnant and lactating mothers and children under five are screened for malnutrition. Disease surveillance and testing for childhood diseases have resulted in a decrease in mortality for children under five years of age. This is intervention is now being scaled up in all settlements in Uganda.
UNHCR is engaging with national partners to maintain supply and treatment of water and sewage in transit centres so that it is safe to use and consume. In the Kisoro District, two waste banks are under construction, as well as three compost pits.
Many young refugees from DR Congo have been exposed to violence before they fled. As a result of this traumatic experience, they require psychosocial support, which UNHCR can now provide with continued financial contributions.
As thousands of people cross the Bunagana border, UNHCR has established a system to identify and fast track those in need of emergency assistance, such as unaccompanied children and people with disabilities.
Over 18,000 COVID-19 tests have been carried out. Eligible children from DR Congo are also receiving polio vaccinations. In addition, children at risk are being given temporary foster care and helped with contacting and reunifying with their families.
Denmark as a donor
Thus far in 2022, Denmark has contributed over USD 100 million to UNHCR, of which USD 10.3 million went towards UNHCR’s operation in Uganda. USD 35.6 million of Denmark’s 2022 contribution is unearmarked, enabling UNHCR to rapidly scale up its response when faced with emergencies and to maintain operations in protracted situations. Each year, Denmark contributes with an Emergency Reserve Fund of 7.5 M which UNHCR can allocate to the crisis and situations where the needs are most acute. In 2022, the fund has been allocated to Uganda, as well as Ethiopia, Lebanon and Yemen.
In 2021, Denmark was UNHCR’s eighth biggest government donor, with a contribution of USD 101.2 million, of which 34% was unearmarked.