MPs demand more funding for refugee settlements

Congolese refugees fetch water at Nyakabande refugee transit camp in Kisoro District in October 2023. PHOTO/ROBERT MUHEREZA

What you need to know:

  • The MPs argue that the Shs15,000 offered to each person by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees is not enough and are calling upon the government to give support to the refugees.

Members of the parliamentary committee on Presidential Affairs are rallying the government and non-governmental organisations for more support in refugee settlements in Uganda.

They made the call during a fact-finding visit in Kyegegwa and Kasese districts last week.

Mr Denis Onekalit Amere (Kitgum Municipality), who led the delegation, urged the government to increase funds for refugee-related activities.

“What we have found on the ground in Kyaka II refugee, Kiryandogo and others is not good . We have realised that money given to each person in the settlement is Shs15,000 per month, and if the household has say four people, that means they will get Shs60,000 for a month, which cannot even take them for three days,” he said.

Mr Amere added: “The Shs15,000 offered by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees is not enough at all and that’s the reason why we’re calling upon our government to give support to these refugees in terms of money to supplement the Shs15,000 given to each person.”

The MPs also urged the government to give more land to the office of the Prime Minister (OPM) for farming in the refugee settlements.

“Food shortage is one the biggest problems. That’s why we’re asking the government to give something like two square miles …to solve the food shortage in the settlements,” Mr Amere said.

The field officer for Kyaka at the United Nations refugee agency in Kyaka, Mr Innocent Ndira, said the organisation stopped offering food and resorted to giving out money to refugees some time back.

“I don’t know how UNHCR came to Shs15,000 because I am a new officer in this position. But I also request Uganda to appreciate the little we are offering...I don’t think Uganda can stand on its own to look after all the refugees in the country,” Mr Ndira said.

Mr John Byamukama Kisoke, the chairman of Kyegegwa District, lauded lawmakers for highlighting the need for increased funding to refuggee settlements. 

He urged the government to respond positively.

“Kyegegwa has many problems, which the government should solve such as shortage of water, staff in both schools and hospitals,” he said.

Uganda is the largest refugee-hosting country with more than 1.5 million residing in various camps.