Uganda Hosts High Ministerial Conference for Refugees

Ugandan minister for EAC Rebecca Kadaga address the participants.

The inter-regional economic conference on solutions for refugees in the East African region and Horn of Africa has been held in Kampala. The conference has been run under the theme, enhancing coordinated regional approaches to the refugee situation in the horn of Africa.

The conference that was organized by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in partnership with the East African Community CEAC) was presided over by minister Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga. The latter is the Ugandan minister for EAC.

Kadaga said leaders in the region need to come to gather and evaluate the previous targets set to deal with the refugee crisis and find new ways to resolve the safe return of the displaced people to their countries of origin.

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The conference was attended by delegates from among other countries Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti ,Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya. The attendees agreed to jointly deal with refugee crisis in the regions.

Kadaga explained that EAC and Horn of Africa regions have a high concentration of displaced population. She backed her statement with statistics showing that EAC hosts more than five million refugees and over 14 million internationally displaced people.

There is a worry that refugees and IDPs figures could double because natural disasters and climate change for example. Africa is expected to witness the worst of climate change. Hilary Onek, the minister in charge of refugees in Uganda explained that hosts the highest refugee population in the IGAD region, it is struggling with a new displacement surge from Eastern DRC and the South Sudan. 

“Despite the magnitude of the displacement challenge, member states continue to maintain an open-door policy for refugees and have made several commitments to pursue durable solutions for refugees and other displaced population” Onek said.

The country representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Brigitte Mukanga said the dialogue should focus on regional protection, solutions for refugees, the host communities and also explore ways of addressing causes of displacements across the region.

UNHCR report shows that there are over 5.5 million refugees and 12 million internally displaced in the region. Of these, Uganda hosts over 1.5 million foreigners are as Refugees mainly from the neighbouring countries of Rwanda, Somalia, Burundi, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mukanga said UNHCR will continued supporting IGAD and EAC that are championing coordinated regional approaches to refugee management including developing regional refugee policies with a multi-sectoral scope.

Since 2017, IGAD member states have pursued a regional approach in finding durable solutions for displaced population and their host communities but with almost no tangible outcomes.

By Benjamin Mwibo 

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