Donors pledge $352 million to help South Sudan refugees in Uganda


Authorities have said the refugees and host communities are close to the breaking point.

"The global community needs to step up and needs to give to the Ugandan people and to the refugees hosted by the Ugandan people the kind of support that is absolutely needed because the circumstances in which these sacrifices are being made are extremely, extremely challenging", UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said.

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) - Food aid soon will run out for almost a million South Sudanese sheltering in Uganda in what has become the world's fastest-growing refugee crisis, the United Nations refugee chief said Friday. "Malnutrition rates among refugees are alarming". European nations pledged 125 million euros on Friday; the EU said it will give 85 million euros.

More than 270 000 of them are housed in Bidibidi settlement, which overtook Kenya's Dadaab earlier this year as the biggest refugee camp in the world.

The High Commissioner said support for Uganda, which already maintained an inclusive refugee policy, is critical to "show that this model can work".

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"I don't think anyone ever anticipated that we would be dealing with one million refugees out of South Sudan alone", David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme, told Reuters.

"This is particularly worrying, especially when associated to forms of political populism, xenophobia, racism, in which refugees become a target", Guterres said, "many times being accused of being part of the terror threat when refugees are not terrorists - they are the first victims of terror, they are fleeing terror; that is why they are refugees". The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.

Uganda is now Africa's leading refugee-hosting country, having jumped from the eighth largest refugee-hosting country in the world in mid-2016 to the third largest now, after Turkey and Pakistan. "I don't see any problem with the issue I discussed with Mr Paul Kagame, although some people want to make a problem out of it", Mr Lungu said. "Not all refugees are accepted, some are rejected, and sometimes in countries much richer than Uganda", said Guterres. Uganda has been praised for its generous policy toward refugees, including the allocation of plots of land for growing food.

"Regrettably, the hospitality of host countries is not adequately matched by financial contributions", said Grandi, citing the fact that the current humanitarian appeal for South Sudanese refugees is funded at only 16 per cent.

The U.N. children's fund in Uganda this week said it requires almost $50 million this year as well as $30 million each year from 2018 to 2020 to provide critical services to both refugees and host communities.