Government has expressed concern over the ever increasing number children belonging to refugees hosted in Uganda.
Speaking during an inter-ministerial high level breakfast dialogue at Sheraton Hotel in Kampala, the Assistant Commissioner in charge of Disaster Preparedness in the Office of the Prime Minister, Menha Gerald Simon said every year, 40,000 children are born to refugees, a trend he said is worrying.
“Many of the refugees are raped before coming here. In the result, every year, refugees give birth to 40,000 children some of whom are fartherless. In 10 years from now, 500,000 refugee children will be in Uganda,”Menha said.
According to the Assistant Commissioner in charge of Disaster said the 40,000 born every year will have a problem of knowing where they come from and belong but also put pressure on the country’s resources.
Speaking during the function, the State Minister Local Government, Jenifer Namuyangu said refugees have continued to put pressure on the country’s resources.
“The major population of refugees is women and children. Whereas the international community gives food to refugees, they don’t provide the means of cooking it. The refugees then proceed to cut down trees for cooking or burning charcoal. They end up contributing to deforestation,”Namuyangu said.
“All the areas hosting refugees are highly degraded in terms of biomass destruction.”
The Assistant Commissioner in charge of Disaster Preparedness in the OPM said that research has shown that within one year of settlement by refugees in an area, 58% of the vegetation is cleared.
“Whereas in other parts of the world, refugees are provided with food and the means to prepare it by the World Food Program, the story is different in Uganda. This has seen them put pressure on our resources. A lot is desired to ensure refugees live a dignified life,”Menha said.
According to Ritah Nansereko, the Executive Director for African Women and Youth Action for Development (AWYAD) despite an increase in the number of refugees coming to Uganda, the donor funds have continued to go down.
“We have realized that despite an increase in the number of refugees from DRC and South Sudan, the budgets at hand within government and international and national organisations in charge of responding to refugees have not increased. We are seeing shrinking funds coming for humanitarian work with the emergency of the Covid-19 pandemic,”Nansereko said.
She said that the right to education and food are consequently being denied to the refugees due to the shrinking funds which are not in tandem with the increasing numbers.
The First Deputy Prime Minister, Gen Moses Ali said the dialogue about the plight of refugees is timely as it speaks to the current concerns on humanitarian response for all stakeholders to act.
“We need much support from the international community to realize the rights of the refugees. Whereas Uganda is welcoming refugees, it should be done in a manner that doesn’t have a bigger burden on the host communities,” Moses Ali noted.