United Nations in joint effort to address refugee situation in South Western Uganda
13 July 2012: The United Nations System in Uganda today announced that it has secured 7 million US dollars from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to facilitate a humanitarian response to the influx of over 30,000 refugees fleeing fighting in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The number of Congolese refugees crossing into south-western Uganda, mainly through Bunagana border point, has dramatically increased since May 2012, including thousands of new arrivals within the last week, following clashes between M23 forces – supporting General Bosco Ntangada – and the Congolese army (FARDC) in which the rebels seized the border town of Bunagana and some neighbouring towns. Most of the refugees originate from the Rutshuru region of North Kivu. Fighting continues and the refugee situation is worsening.
According to the UN Resident Co-ordinator in Uganda, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie, the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, is leading UN’s response to the emergency, in close co-ordination with the Office of the Prime Minister and other humanitarian partner organisations, to address the needs of the refugees. Other United Nations agencies involved are WFP, UNICEF, UNFPA, FAO, WHO, and IOM.
“The 7 million dollars we have secured in emergency funds will enable us, as a UN family, to effectively address the food, health & nutrition, water & sanitation, and shelter needs of the refugees, whose numbers have been increasing significantly in the past few weeks,’ said Eziakonwa-Onochie.
Refugees entering Uganda are received and registered at Nyakabande Transit Centre from where they are transferred to the newly created Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement in Kamwenge District as well as to Nakivale and Oruchinga Refugee Settlements in Isingiro District.
‘UNHCR is playing the leading role in coordinating the humanitarian response on the ground together with the Office of the Prime Minister Refugee Department, right from registration of the arrival of new refugees, managing the transit centre including providing cooked food, managing the referral system for unaccompanied and separated children and initiating family tracing and transporting the refugees from the transit centre to the refugee settlements,’ said Mr. Mohammed Adar, UNHCR Representative in Uganda.
UNHCR is also managing the refugee settlement at Rwamwanja including providing shelter kits and household items, maintaining water points, carrying out general community sensitisation on a wide range of issues such as the environment and gender based violence. The additional funds will allow UNHCR to support the government to ensure registration of the refugees and confirmation of their status. It will also allow UNHCR to construct water extension systems at Nakivale and Oruchinga settlements, hire and maintain water trucks and tanks, provide materials to construct 3,000 latrines, distribute 7,500 kits of household and shelter items, augment the health care provision capacity in the transit centre and the refugee settlements, provide additional teachers to primary schools and rehabilitate roads within the settlements.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) will undertake general food distributions intended to meet food needs for 30,000 new refugees in all settlements; while UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) will conduct distribution of seeds and agricultural inputs to all new arrivals. Both agencies will support the food security needs.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is catering for the nutrition of needs of infants and lactating mothers. UNICEF will also provide emergency education materials for school-going children, temporary teaching and child-friendly learning spaces, and 5,000 hygiene kits for school going girls. UNICEF will further support the construction of 8 new boreholes at Rwamwanja Settlement.
Under the recently approved project, clean and safe water for 18,000 refugees, through drilling of another 6 boreholes at Rwamwanja Settlement, will be provided by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). IOM will equally provide materials to construct 4,000 latrines, rehabilitate the Rwamwanja Health Centre and as well as rehabilitate the Rwamwanja Primary School and St. Michael’s Primary School including installing a rain water harvest system.
Basic medical care quality improvement, outreach immunisation activities and disease surveillance are being handled by the World Health Organisation (WHO), who will provide technical support to health centres and referral hospitals, orient health workers and strengthen critical diagnostic capacity including lab facilities and other equipment.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will intervene in the area of reproductive health, with emergency reproductive health kits and 4,500 dignity kits for women new arrivals, and provide support to health workers working in the region in pregnancy and delivery care. Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) issues are being addressed by the same agency, through community mobilisation and education, orientation of health workers on management of SGBV, psychosocial care and support to survivors, and through SGBV community prevention groups.
For more information, please contact: Michael Wangusa, Communication Officer, UN Resident Coordinators Office Telephone: +256-417-112 100; Cell phone: +256-772 – 651 465 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.