Japan’s Ambassador to Uganda, H.E Kazuaki Kameda has handed over 4,758 metric tons of rice for distribution to refugees and socially vulnerable people including those in communities hosting refugees.
The donation is also topped up with the contribution of USD 640,000 in cash to meet associated costs like transportation, handling and storage.
The food donation has been made possible through ‘Japan grants aid for the foods assistance program’. In 2017, a grant of about UGX 12 billion was given to the Ugandan government.
While addressing the media at the World Food Program warehouse in Nalukolongo, Ambassador Kameda said, “I’m happy to note that using this grant assistance, 4,758 metric tons of rice have been procured for the improvement of nutrition of at least 350,000 refugees and 150,000 host community members.”
The donated rice will be distributed by World Food Programme (WFP) and the office of the Prime minister to the refugee community in Uganda in the settlements of Kyaka 11, Kyangwali, Nakivale, Oruchinga and Rwamwanja in Southwest and western Uganda as well as Rhino camp in West Nile.
The Commissioner for Refugees in the Ministry of for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees who represented Hillary Onek (minister) during the handover thanked the Japanese government for the support.
“We have received food (rice) donation worth USD 3.5 Million from the people of Japan to support over 1.4 million refugees in Uganda. We appreciate the support from Japan but this is just a drop in the ocean for the quantities needed to support our people.
“The government of Uganda has also endeavoured to give land to the refugees so that they can start farming to support themselves because they receive few kilograms of food that can hardly sustain them,” Menya noted.
He also stressed that the refugee problem is not just for Uganda but the world over and, these countries make an effort to collect funds from all organizations around the globe to support the refugees.
El Khidir Daloum, the Country Director and Representative, World Food Programme said the food that they have for Refugees in store will be able to take them up to May 2020.
“The food we have in store will be able to take us up to May yet about 800,000 refugees receive food and those who receive cash are more than 400,000 which we have until the end of the month.
“The implication If food is not got on time will mean people will receive less than they are entitled and this will bring about malnutrition and it’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed by the international community.
“We need USD 16 million for every single month to provide food and cash assistance to 1.4 million refugees in Uganda. This amount is just for one out of the six priorities of our re strategic plan.”
The consignment from the Japan government was received in August 2019 and has since been distributed to the refugees by the World Food Programme.
Uganda currently hosts the highest number of refugees in Africa (1.4 million) as of January 2020. 83% of the refugees in Uganda are women and people aged under 18.
The refugees arrive in Uganda with little or no assets at all, which leaves them heavily dependent on external assistance.
A 2017 WFP and government study found that even while the government provides them with land to aid their resettlement, and the UN and NGOs provide additional assistance, refugees remain vulnerable for years.
BY FRANK SEMATA