President Museveni and UN Chief appeal to world leaders for refugee funding

By Catherine Ageno

President Yoweri Museveni and the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres are asking the world leaders to help raise the over US$2billion needed in emergency funds to handle the humanitarian crisis caused by the South Sudan conflict.

Uganda is now host to over 1.2 million refugees, about 800,000 of them South Sudanese who have fled the violence and famine with more than 2000 refugees coming in daily, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

In a one to one meeting with Mr. Guterres at the sidelines of the International Conference on Somalia at Lancaster House in London, president Museveni said that as a mediator in the conflict, he would use the IGAD monitoring report and work with the IGAD chairman, Ethiopias’ Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalgn to see that those who abuse the ceasefire are talked to.

“I have been allowed by President Salva Kiir to mediate the warring factions in South Sudan. I will use the IGAD monitoring report and work with the IGAD chairman, Ethiopias’ Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalgn to see that those who abuse the ceasefire are talked to”, he said.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres has confirmed his participation in the June 2017 Refugees Solidarity Conference to be held in Uganda which 30 other heads of State and stakeholders will attend.

In 2016, the Government and the United Nations each spent USD 150 million responding to the needs of refugees and the communities hosting them in 12 districts. However, the raising huge numbers are placing a huge strain on the already stressed ability to cater for the food, water, sanitation, health and education needs of the refugees and their host communities.

The ‘Refugee Solidarity’ conference was mooted in January during a meeting between President Museveni and Mr Guterres, at the sidelines of 28th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Uganda is currently ranked as the second-largest refugee-hosting country in the world after Turkey with a refugee population nearing to one million.

Relatedly, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has reechoed he is call for urgent response to the humanitarian crisis in Somalia.

He has told the London Conference on Somalia that the country now hangs in the balance between peril and potential.

Mr Guterres however says world leaders can tip the scales from danger to safety.

He says although political stability is gradually gaining ground, capacity to govern is increased, and foundations for improved stability are in place, all these gains that the President and the government have managed are fragile.

He thus says there is need for investments that preserve progress while urgently addressing the growing food insecurity crisis affecting millions of Somalis.

Mr. Guterres also appealed for additional assistance to address the drought in Somalia, describing it as “the most pressing priority.”

“The drought is the most pressing priority. This morning, we presented a revised Humanitarian Response Plan seeking an additional $900 million through the end of the year. We also need to address the damage caused by climate change and conflict.”

This crisis has left 6.2 million severely food insecure.