The Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga has directed government to cause debate on Uganda’s refugee policy.
Kadaga said whereas the country’s responsiveness and open door policy has attracted international admiration, pressures exerted on the local population by refugees is a cause for concern.
“They [refugees] have insisted on staying in the villages [with the locals]. When are we getting an update? We need a debate on the Refugee Policy in Uganda,” she said.
Earlier, MP Hassan Kaps Fungaroo (FDC, Obongi) took issue with presence of refugees in his constituency, blaming them for exerting pressures on the environment through deforestation.
Fungaroo said government should comprehensively address the question of refugees shunning gazetted camps for living in villages occupied by locals.
The First Deputy Prime Minister Gen Moses Ali, in response to the Speaker said that government is proud of its efforts on handling refugees, but promised to “cause the responsible Minister to bring a comprehensive statement as you have ordered.”
“Internationally, Uganda is shining by welcoming these people. However, the pressure on the communities as we host these refugees should and will be addressed,” said Gen Moses Ali.
Moses Ali said the communities could meanwhile consider planting trees as a mitigation measure.
Fungaroo flashed newspaper reports from a local daily, with stories on how funds meant for refugee funds have been allegedly misappropriated at the Office of the Prime Minister.
He said the media reports are only addressing investigations rotating around Kampala, saying the situation could be worse in the countryside where the refugee pressures are felt most.
At a highly billed international conference last year, Uganda hosted a Refugee Summit, which was graced by international leaders.
They also fundraised to support Uganda’s efforts to host refugees, which funds are now a subject of controversy following media reports which claimed impropriety on the part of officials charged with handling them.