Uganda’s Commissioner of Refugees has expressed concern over the rapid increase in the number of refugees entering the country.
Speaking during the official opening of the Department of Refugees’ offices in Kampala, David Kazungu said “Many Congolese refugees have crossed into Uganda in recent days following fighting between rebel groups. Since their arrival, the Ugandan government and humanitarian agencies are struggling to meet the refugees’ needs amidst funding challenges,” he explained.
Kazungu described the situation as “overwhelming” and “dire” saying that Uganda was not adequately prepared to provide humanitarian assistance to such a large number of refugees.
State minister for relief and disaster preparedness, Musa Ecweru, on the other hand accused locals of encroaching on land that the government had set aside for refugee settlement.
He emphasized that the current infrastructure in the refugee department could not support the sudden influx of refugees and appealed for financial assistance from donors and the international community.
“The international community and donors have a responsibility to help Uganda share this burden,” said Ecweru.
Uganda’s representative for the UNHCR, Mohammed Adar, echoed the government’s sentiments saying that the refugees needed urgent humanitarian assistance and relief services most importantly water, health, sanitation and education.
Uganda is home to more than 234,000 refugees; 65 percent of these people just recently crossed from the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. Many of them are living in schools, churches and citizens’ gardens posing a tremendous challenge to the host community.
The host government is working on providing food, water and sanitation, shelter, education and health services in the refugee villages.