UNHCR pleads for funds for Refugees

The United Nations High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) is calling on the international community to support refugee response as the organisation faces a funding shortfall.

According to UNHCR, the agency has so far received $40m of the required $450m leaving a funding shortfall of $410m .

The revelation was made by Joel Boutroue, UNHCR Representative to Uganda who noted that they only have 9 percent of the funding.

According to Boutroue, most of the funding shortfall is meant to cater for the social services like health care and education, warning that if the money isn’t availed in time, will likely throw the camps housing the refugees in crisis.

Uganda is currently facing a huge refugee influx from the Democratic Republic of Congo, following fighting in the Ituri Province.

Uganda hosts close to over 1.3 million refugees and asylum seekers, as per August 2017 with South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, Somalia accounting for the biggest number of the asylum seekers.

Boutroue has warned that if the funds aren’t availed, UNHCR will be pushed into borrowing some funds from Geneva so as to avail services to the refugees.

Meanwhile, UNHCR has completed verification of refugees in two settlements of Lobule and Oruchinga found in South Western Uganda is host to refugees from DRC while Lobule settlement is in Koboko district with most of the asylum seekers coming from South Sudan with the two camps having 194,543 refugees.

With Uganda being home to 30 refugee settlements, the verification exercise is being undertaken in Bidi Bidi, Nakivale, Imvepi and Adjumani, refugee settlements with plans to hold verifications in Kampala, Kiryandongo coming next.

While addressing journalists at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala, Duniya Aslam Khan, the Communications Officer of UNHCR said that the verification exercise started on 1st March 2018 and 7000 ghost refugees were discovered in Nakivale camp, whereas the verifications in Lobule and Oruchinga found a clean sheet, with no ghost refugees.

According to Boutroue, the verification is expected to end in October 2018 with 350 people hired to conduct the exercise with each day seeing 15,000 people verified.

Each refugee in Uganda is entitled to a 50 by 50 plot of land for cultivation and settlement, materials for construction of a shelter and daily food rations for a period of at least one year, with the asylum seekers entitled to access to both health care and education within the community they live in.

The development comes at a time when Uganda is in the spot following reports that officials from the Office of the Prime Minister were accused of overstating the number of refugees and stealing refugee food.