KAMPALA (HAN) December 26, 2015 – Public Diplomacy and Regional Stability Initiatives News. The United Kingdom has urged Uganda to get the warring parties in Burundi, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the negotiating table to stop continuous displacement of their nationals. Currently, Uganda is hosting more than half a million refugees from Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, DRC and Burundi and a few asylum seekers from Ethiopia and Eritrea.
This is the highest number of refugees in the country in many years, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).UK Minister for Africa James Duddridge recently held talks with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala to find a role the UK and other international partners can play to bring to an end the ongoing civil wars in Burundi, South Sudan and the DRC. “The number of refugees coming into Uganda is up nine times, but we want to deal with issues at the source, which is why I spent so long discussing with President Museveni regional issues dealing with refugees, stability and conflict in South Sudan and Burundi. Uganda is a strong partner in this,” said Mr Duddridge.
Mr Duddridge proceeded to Kigali and Bujumbura to hold similar talks with Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi. President Nkurunziza is at the centre of the conflict in Burundi after he sought a third term against the wishes of civil society and the opposition who argued that he had served two terms as stipulated in the Constitution. If the conflict continues into 2016, experts warn, the number of refugees in Uganda could reach over 750,000, a number that will overstretch the country’s capacity to provide basic humanitarian resources.
UNHCR, Unicef and the World Food Programme are working with the Ugandan government on readiness measures to handle further surge in numbers of refugees. At the same time, the UK government has given Uganda £11.6 million ($17.6 million) to support its refugee programme. Statistics show that 57 per cent of the refugees are children and the need to be kept in schools. “At this critical juncture, with ever more refugees in the region needing our protection, Uganda welcomes the UK’s call for solidarity and international burden sharing at a time when our country is hosting more refugees than ever before. It is vital that our international partners work with us to ensure support is provided to our neighbours in need,” said Musa Ecweru, State Minister for Disaster Preparedness.
Uganda is currently hosting 17,000 refugees from Burundi but UNHCR predicts that the number could reach 100,000 if the fighting continues. Tanzania is also hosting 11,000 Burundian refugees. “Two weeks ago, we saw a rising influx because the security situation is fragile and so we are making preparations for a massive influx of between 500 and 750 people on average per week. We believe that refugees from South Sudan and DRC will come in larger numbers compared with those from Burundi,” said UNHRC associate external relations officer, Charlie Yaxley. The UNHCR official said militias in DRC have renewed operations, in looting, maiming and raping women, which is expected to force people to flee eastern DRC. This he said, has not captured the attention of the media. Source: theeastafrican