A European Union-funded humanitarian project, extending over twelve months, has been launched in Uganda to address the basic needs of Democratic Republic of Congo refugees in the southwest of the country.
Uganda’s refugee policy has since been hailed as one of the most progressive in the world and the country has continued to welcome refugees at a time when many countries are shutting their doors.
The EU project was presented Thursday at the country offices of the Danish Refugee Council in Kampala, Uganda.
Funded through the European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department (DG ECHO), the project is receiving support worth EUR 3 million (approximately Shs 12 billion).
“Our goal is to ensure that the most vulnerable refugees are safe and that their basic needs are covered. This means providing them with shelter, food, water, protection and helping them on the path to self-reliance,” says Isabelle D’Haudt, Head of EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations in Uganda.
The project is a consortium led by the Danish Refugee Council in Uganda in partnership with the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and Action Against Hunger (ACF).
The three organisations are expected to bring the experience, technical expertise and operational strength needed for the successful implementation of the planned actions.
Uganda is hosting 1.1 million refugees, by far the largest number in Africa and the third largest worldwide.
In addition to responding to basic needs and increasing refugees’ resilience, the project also aims at protecting the environment in refugee-hosting areas.
“For the first time, we have a project where the household is at the centre of our operations. It is an integral and critical part of the protection and solutions strategy,” said Severine Moisy, Head of Programmes at the Danish Refugee Council.
“We designed assistance around the refugee household; partners are bringing together their efforts into one coordinated and standardised approach across the board to be used for selected households having specific needs.”
The project is expected to benefit 3 500 vulnerable households comprising 18, 000 individuals in the two settlements of Kyaka II and Kyangwali, located in the Kyegegwa and Kikuube districts respectively, in southwestern Uganda.
Officials said these settlements were chosen as areas for intervention because of their urgent humanitarian needs and the presence of very vulnerable refugees in them.
Furthermore, these two settlements continue to receive new arrivals of people fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Between May 2017 and December 2018, the Danish Refugee Council led another EU-funded consortium which provided aid to 350 000 South Sudanese refugees and their host communities in northern Uganda by giving them sustainable access to water and sanitation, shelter, livelihoods and protection services.
Similarly, in a pilot project that ran between April and November 2018, the EU supported a cash programme implemented by the Danish Refugee Council in Kyaka II which provided aid to 3 000 households. The beneficiaries, vulnerable new arrivals from the Democratic Republic of Congo, received cash grants to meet their basic needs.
Uganda continues to welcome refugees. According to the most recent verification of refugee numbers conducted by the Government of Uganda and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the country hosts up to 1.2 million refugees, of whom, more than 300 000 are from the Democratic Republic of Congo.