JUNE 22, 2010: Country Has Best Refugee Policy, Says United Nations

Country Has Best Refugee Policy, Says United Nations
SOURCE: The New Vision
By Pascal Kwesiga
Uganda has the best refugee policy in the world, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees country representative has said.

Nema Temporal said Uganda was the only country which allocates land to refugees for cultivation.

She also said it was the first to ratify the African Union convention on internally displaced persons held in Kampala last year.

Temporal added that Uganda's voluntary repatriation of refugees to Sudan in 2008 and 2009 was the most successful.

"Some 31,928 refugees returned to Sudan from Uganda in 2009 and this year, 1,819 of the remaining refugees have been helped to return home," she said.

Temporal was speaking during the World Refugee Day celebrations at Kasonga Primary School at Kyangwali settlement camp in Hoima district on Saturday.

She said with support from the international community, her organisation would continue to assist the Government in providing protection and humanitarian aid to 144,000 refugees and others of concern to the UN refugee agency.

Temporal noted that the number of refugees in Kampala had risen to 32,493.

Uganda hosts refugees from DR Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia among other places.

The disaster preparedness state minister, Musa Ecweru, said Uganda boasted of the best refugee policy because of its hospitality.

He added that the Government had ratified the international instruments that protect refugees.

Ecweru urged the refugees to respect Uganda's laws.

He regretted that the conflict in eastern DR Congo was dragging on.

Ecweru explained that the Government would continue to protect the refugees until conditions in their countries of origin are safe enough for them to return.

The minister allayed fears that next year's general elections would bring anarchy to Uganda.

The Hoima district chairman, George Bagonza, said the refugees contributed to the development of the area.

"They engage in food production and are feeding Hoima, Kibaale and Kampala," he said.

The Kyangwali settlement camp leader, Fred Kiwanuka, said 99% of the refugees engage in agriculture, but face a major challenge from cattle keepers who graze animals in their gardens.

He called for the setting up of boundaries to solve the problem.

There were 43.3 million forcefully displaced people worldwide in 2009, of which 15.2 million were refugees.