Uganda Can’t Block Entry For People Who Are Running Away From Wars’- Parliament Rejects Report On Refugees’ Status

Uganda Can’t Block Entry For People Who Are Running Away From Wars’- Parliament Rejects Report On Refugees’ Status

By Spy Uganda

Kampala: Parliament has rejected a Report from its Committee on Equal Opportunities recommending a review of the refugee policy to curtail their inflow to a sustainable level.  

The committee’s Deputy Chairperson, Hon. Dorcas Acen, presented the report during plenary sitting on Thursday, 15 February 2024, but will at a later date have to report back again on the status of refugees and refugee hosting communities in Uganda.

“The committee strongly recommends that government revises its refugee policy to forestall a probable long-term conflict resulting from over flow of refugees and underfunding resulting from cuts in budgetary support from donors,” read the report in part.

Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, however, said that the report had many loopholes, stating that the recommended policy review should be handled at cabinet level.  

“I do not want us to break news here that Parliament has stopped refugees. It is our obligation under international laws to host refugees. We cannot stop someone who is running away from war from entering our country,” Tayebwa said.

He referred the report back to the committee, saying that it requires a clean-up. 

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hon. John Mulimba, said that the recommendation on curtailing refugees from entering Uganda is in discord with national and international conventions on refugees, which Uganda ratified. 

“In 2009, a special summit of African Union resulted in a Kampala declaration on refugees and the report seems to have a lot of discord in accordance with that declaration. Yes, we registered concerns which are indeed internal administrative issues,” he said.

The Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja, said that the Global Summit on Refugees in December 2023, resolved on how to manage the dwindling resources to refugee hosting districts in Uganda and that therefore the issue should not be used to justify curtailing of refugee entry to Uganda.   

“During the global refugee forum in Geneva, in December 2023 Uganda was recognised because of our refugee policy, globally. In 1986, Uganda was an exporter of refugees, up to 500,000 were living in other countries around the globe and we are currently hosting 1.6 million refugees,” Nabbanja said. 

She added, “People come to save their dear lives, they are running away because we are secure and peaceful. We have a policy that allows our neighbors to come freely and almost every month I get people who benchmark on our policies.”

Hon. Rose Obigah (NRM, Terego District Woman MP), said that her constituency has realised progressive development, which she attributed to the presence of refugees there.       

“We should treat them with dignity, they come because there is a challenge back home. The few challenges they are having with host communities, we should address them,” she said. 

The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Joel Ssenyonyi, urged government to collaborate with neighbouring countries to assist Uganda support host communities. 

“It is good manners to give refuge and we should not stop that but we need to compel government to engage neighboring countries because Uganda cannot carry the burden alone, host communities are disempowered,” he said. an accessible web community

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