Message by the Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda on World Refugee Day 2018
Around this time last year, the world was united as Uganda convened the Solidarity Summit on Refugees, a high level forum that was co-hosted by H.E. President Yoweri Museveni and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres.
The Summit was a landmark event in Uganda’s long history of hosting women, men and children forced to flee their homes and communities by war and persecution. At the time, the population of refugees in Uganda had multiplied three-fold from a modest 500,000.
The arrival of nearly 1 million South Sudanese mostly children and women into West Nile catapulted Uganda into the third leading refugee hosting country worldwide.
The Solidarity Summit showcased the Uganda Model — our globally acclaimed progressive approach of hosting refugees that is informed by our clear understanding that no one chooses to be a refugee. Today, it is them, tomorrow, it could be any one of us. It is our moral, Pan African and patriotic duty to keep our borders open to our children, sisters and brothers from different countries in their greatest time of need.
The goal of the Solidarity Summit was to mobilize international support to meet the needs of refugees and the communities that host them. We thank all our partners who made pledges and are contributing to our appeal.
One year later, Uganda continues to open our borders and hospitality towards people who have lost the protection of their home countries. This year a new emergency front opened along Uganda’s western border, with refugees arriving in tens of thousands from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
As we commemorate World Refugee Day, on 20 June, we recognise the resilience that brings refugees to our doorstep in desperate situations in many cases, and usually traumatized by harrowing experiences before and during their journeys. We acknowledge and salute the openness, generosity and resilience of host communities who open their homes and share whatever they have with the refugees.
We thank the individuals, organizations and countries that have for decades supported Uganda in this endeavor of supporting refugees and host communities. It has been encouraging to have new partners join the effort to protect and assist refugees, in response to our appeal during the Solidarity Summit, and to see greater engagement of different Ministries of Government in refugee response. Any contribution that helps to mitigate the political, economic, social, environmental, developmental and humanitarian impact of mass population flows is deeply appreciated.
Signifi cantly, this year marks the 60th anniversary since Nakivale, located in Isingiro District, was established in 1958 to host Rwandan refugees. Today Nakivale is home to more than 90,000 refugees from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan,
Sudan and other countries.
In many ways, Nakivale embodies our aspirations for all refugees in Uganda, with fl ourishing food crops and bustling markets. Still, refugees and members of host communities face many of the same challenges, including but not limited to competition for resources, education and livelihood opportunities. We continue to count on the international community to support our efforts to ensure a safe and dignifi ed stay for refugees in Uganda, and to uplift the communities that host them.