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Uganda Solidarity Summit on Refugees raises $358 Million

By Michael Wangusa, UN Resident Coordinators Office (RCO)

The Uganda Solidarity Summit on Refugees convened and jointly hosted by President Yoweri Museveni and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in Kampala on 23rd June 2017 raised USD 433 million (as at 29th June) for refugees and Ugandan communities hosting them.

The main purpose of the summit was to support and strengthen Uganda’s progressive and transformative approach to refugee protection through showcasing the Uganda model in relation to the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework and mobilising international support to meet the immediate humanitarian needs of refugees as well as address the longer- term needs of refugees and the communities that host them.

In particular the summit aimed at rallying political support for and resolve to sustain the application of a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework in Uganda; obtaining significant new funding towards the refugee response plans as well as ongoing resilience initiatives, notably the Government’s Settlement Transformative Agenda (STA) and the UN- World Bank Refugee and Host Population Empowerment (ReHoPE) Strategy; and creating new partnerships, investments and innovation for the benefit of refugees and host communities.

The summit was unique because it was the first summit of its kind to be held in the global south in the same country for which support was mobilised in solidarity. The Summit was attended by representatives from 46 countries and international organisations including several Heads of States and Governments. The countries that participated in the summit from Africa included Burundi, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia; from Europe, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom; from Asia, China, India, Japan and South Korea; from the Middle East, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia; from North America, Canada and United States; and Australia. Organisations that participated included European Union, African Union, World Bank, African Development Bank. International NGOs included Plan International and Save the Children. Private corporations also participated including MTN.

Addressing the Summit President Yoweri Museveni said,’ Given our Pan-Africanist ideological orientation and the history of our people, it is not such a difficult problem to absorb or co- exist with refugees from within Africa. Nevertheless, the sudden large numbers of refugees present the following problems: feeding them; sheltering them; providing energy for them for cooking and lighting so that they do not destroy the environment by cutting trees; water for household use and production; allowances for clothing and other household needs; education for knowledge and skills especially for the children and the youth, immunization and treatment.’

President Museveni called on international partners to assist Uganda to cope with these challenges. He highlighted the importance of rewarding refugee hosting districts in Uganda especially in the area of road infrastructure.

For his part, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, ‘I have seen Uganda’s borders open, I have seen the doors of Uganda’s people open, I have seen the hearts of the Ugandan people open.’But not all doors are open in the world. Not all refugees are accepted, some are rejected, and sometimes in countries much richer than Uganda. So it’s also necessary to look into this example and to say clearly that the international community must come together and re- establish the integrity of the refugee protection regime everywhere in the world.And, at the same time, the international community needs to step up and needs to give to the Ugandan people and to the refugees hosted by the Ugandan people the kind of support that is absolutely needed because the circumstances in which these sacrifices are being made are extremely challenging.

Prior to the summit, on 22nd June 2017 the UN Secretary-General António Guterres and WFP Executive Director David Beasley accompanied by Uganda’s Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda visited Imvepi Refugee Settlement in Arua District to get a first-hand experience of the refugee and host community situation in field. UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Filippo Grandiand European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides also visited Imvepi settlement. While other High Level delegates to the Summit visited settlements in Adjumani District and Nakivale Refugee Settlement in Isingiro District to learn about Uganda’s settlement transformational approach.

The main High Level Summit held on Day 2 was preceded by six side events held on Day 1 that discussed various dimensions of refugee and host community issues as follows: Private Sector, Women Girls, Youth, Non-Governmental Organisations, Education and Local Governments. There was also a exhibition of both days of the summit show casing Uganda’s Settlement Transformative Agenda (STA). The Outcome Document of the Summit known as the Kampala Declaration on Refugees notes that Uganda cannot handle the present massive refugee crisis alone and maintain the progressive policies and the asylum space; and calls upon the international community to fulfill the commitments contained in the New York Declaration and the needs articulated in the Government’s STA by providing additional resources to support the Government and host communities.

Ahead of the summit UN Secretary-General António Guterres paid a courtesy call on President Yoweri Museveni at State House and held Bilateral talks. Mr. Guterres was accompanied by UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Rosa Malango.

UN Agencies in Uganda