FIRST LADY SHARES UGANDA’S REFUGEE EXPERIENCE AT UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY SIDE EVENT
The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Mrs. Janet Museveni has said Uganda has decided to host all refugees that cross into its borders because history compels it never to ignore people living in difficult circumstances since Ugandans also once lived in very difficult circumstances and other people opened their doors to them.
Mrs. Janet Museveni said this while sharing Uganda’s refugee experience during a high-level event on “Solidarity with Refugees: Perspectives on Humanitarianism in the Mediterranean, Africa and Myanmar that took place on 21st September on the sideline of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York. The event convened by the First Lady of Turkey Mrs. Emine Erdogan aimed at marking the one-year anniversary of the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants.
Janet Museveni informed the meeting about Uganda’s open- door refugee policy and settlement refugee system which enables it to currently be home to 1.3 million refugees. The majority, she said, come from South Sudan, while others are from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and other countries from the region.
She said Government of Uganda provides a distinctly favourable protection environment for refugees and the laws provide for equal status to South Sudanese and other refugees within Uganda’s borders. She said refugees in Uganda have access to same social services as the nationals, right to work, sustainable livelihoods, establish businesses, freedom of movement, access to documentation and land for settlement and agriculture.
She also talked about the Refugee and Host Population Empowerment (ReHOPE) strategy that Uganda adopted to ensure that the big refugee influx benefit from the existing service delivery systems and co-exist amicably with the host communities.
She however pointed out critical urgent needs in social services created by the refugee influx which include more teachers at all levels, school infrastructure, facilities and instructional materials and accelerated learning programmes for children whose age is beyond the normal school age.
Turkey’s First Lady Emine Erdogan said the event was convened to highlight the need for collective efforts to address and end the plight of the over 22 million refugees and 65.6 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, renew the call for solidarity with the refugees and their host countries and communities and galvanize global attention on the recent waves of refugee movements in particular those in the Middle East, Africa and South-East Asia regions.
The meeting was also addressed by Commissioner Filippo Grandi from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and the Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Ambassador William Lacy Swing who both thanked Uganda and Turkey for their generosity to migrating refugees.
The First Lady of Guyana was among other distinguished dignitaries at the meeting.