UNHCR assures Uganda of international commitment to support its refugee protection, management and social integration policies

Africa's largest refugee-hosting nation has 1.2 million exiles from neighboring countries

Uganda. Thousands flee indiscriminate violence in South Sudan

"I don't know if my husband and daughter are alive." South Sudanese refugee Susan, 20, sits weeping by the roadside at Ngomoromo border crossing, Uganda with her son, Robert strapped to her back. The family were cut off from each other when armed forces attacked the town of Pajok. Susan walked through the bush for three days before reaching the border.  © UNHCR/Rocco Nuri

KAMPALA, Uganda — UNHCR’s Representative in Uganda today assured the Government of the international community’s commitment to assist refugees and the communities that host them, and to support the country to pursue its refugee protection, management and social integration policies.

Bornwell Kantande was speaking at a ceremony, where the Uganda’s Minister for Disaster Preparedness, Relief and Refugees, Hon. Hilary Onek and the Inspector-General of Police, General Kale Kayihura were guests of honor. During the ceremony, UNHCR handed over 30 vehicles to the Government and to NGO partners.

“The main reasons that people — women, men and children — flee their homes and communities are conflict, general insecurity and human rights,” said Kantande. “Without exception, Uganda opens its doors to refugees and provides them the security and protection that they are no longer able to enjoy in their country.”

The UNHCR Representative lauded the role that the Uganda Police plays in receiving and protecting refugees. “We see police officers working day and night to ensure that those seeking safety find it,” he said. He noted that the vehicles were intended to enhance police mobility so that refugees and nationals could benefit from the security services.

Kantande requested the Government of Uganda to deploy more police officers to refugee hosting areas, and asked for an increase in the number of women officers.

The Inspector-General of Police welcomed the additional support and gave his assurances that refugees would always find safe sanctuary in Uganda. “These are our brothers and sisters,” said Kayihura, adding that despite resource constraints and spiraling refugee numbers, Uganda’s police will continue to redouble their efforts to secure refugee hosting areas. He outlined a range of needs to enhance security including logistical support to patrol border areas.

The Minister for Disaster Preparedness, Relief and Refugees lauded the Government’s partnership with UNHCR in the quest to support people who have fled their countries. Describing the refugee influx as overwhelming, he commended the police for their vigilance and good work.

The Minister noted that Uganda has set aside Government land for use by refugees to settle and cultivate, and that in many cases host communities have done the same. He described initiatives by the Government and its international partners to boost the social and economic situation of refugees and the communities that host them.

Uganda has a long history of providing safe asylum to refugees. With more than 1.2 million, it is currently Africa’s leading refugee-hosting country. The majority hail from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Somalia.

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