The government has threatened to block food imports by the World Food Program for refugees to create a market for Ugandan farmers.
While addressing the media at Uganda Media Centre,the Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Hilary Onek noted that by buying food abroad, it was a ploy to deny Ugandan farmers market opportunities.
“We are going to discuss this matter in cabinet and we are going to cause no procurement of food outside the country by the World Food Programme, let’s the money remain here.Our farmers have a lot of food around here,”he said.
However,the United Nations questioned the quality of Ugandan food.
Rosa Malango,the UN Resident coordinator in Uganda said that one of the issue that need to be tackled is the poor post harvest handling which she said is the reason why food is bought from outside the country.
But Onek insisted that Ugandan farmers should be given an opportunity adding that all Ugandans who eat food produced from here haven’t died.
“These people (refugees) are coming in our country. Do we have to import food to feed them? and yet we have plenty of food here! If they don’t want to eat our food,let them go where the other food is,”he said.
Onek said that Uganda faced the covid-19 challenge adding that we must work to ensure that, every human being is protected and included in the response to this crisis.
“Everyone, regardless of his or her socio-economic status deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.We still continue to count on the international community to support our endless efforts to ensure a safe and dignified stay of our brothers and sisters in Uganda,”he said.
As of March 2020, Uganda refugee population is at 1,470,858 individuals and the numbers continue to grow even with the restrictions on registration of new arrivals because of new birth registration and registration of persons who arrived before the lockdown in March 2020.
Onek said the refugee problem remains an international responsibility noting that government has done its part by offering a conducive environment for the reception and delivery of humanitarian assistance to the refugees.
“Our refugee policies and approach to displacement remains humanitarian and open, anchored on Pan-African solidarity principles. We need to preserve the good will of government and the host communities that have welcomed the refugees by mitigating all issues that may compromise on these good policies,”he said.