Opening Remarks by Abdoulaye Mar Dieye at High-Level Event on Uganda’s Transformational Approach to Refugees and Host Communities

Dec 14, 2016

Uganda’s Transformational Approach to Refugees and Host Communities – Dealing with Multiple Vulnerabilities”


Opening Remarks delivered by Mr. Abdoulaye Mar Dieye

United Nations Assistant Secretary-General,

UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa

 New York, 14 December 2016

Your Excellency, the President of the 69th General Assembly and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uganda, Sam Kutesa,

Your Excellency, Mr. Arthur Kafeero, Ambassador and Head of Multilateral Organizations and Treaties, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uganda,

Your Excellency , Mr. Kintu Nyago, Deputy Permanent Representative of Uganda to the United Nations

Mr. Taye-Brook Zerihoun, Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs,

Distinguished Representatives,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to participate in this important event on “Uganda’s Transformational Approach to Refugees and Host Communities: Dealing with Multiple Vulnerabilities.”

We are here today to mobilize support for Uganda’s forward-looking and innovative Theory of Change. For several decades, Uganda has been generously hosting refugees and asylum seekers from 13 countries, many conflict-affected, in its neighborhood, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Burundi. Refugees and asylum-seekers co-habitate with citizens in 9 districts located mainly in the Northern and Western regions of the country, making

Uganda the third-largest refugee-hosting country in Africa as of the end of 2015. With a real GDP per capita of US$ 801 in 2015, a rising influx of refugees and a rapidly growing population now estimated at close to 40 million, the national vision which envisages robust investments in human capital development, creating opportunities for inclusive economic growth, and reinforcing institutional effectiveness, needs our support.

The Government’s refugee settlement agenda, one of the most progressive in the world, aims at ensuring that 30% of humanitarian response support host communities and 70% benefit refugees. This agenda was included in the domestic planning process, through the Refugee Settlement Transformative Agenda and today, almost 43 percent of refugees are actively engaged in the national labor market.  A report by WFP has just shown that humanitarian aid for refugees in Uganda increased the real incomes of host communities by up to $1,100 annually. A unique feature of Uganda’s refugee policy is that they are allotted land for homes and in some cases, also for agricultural activities. This contribution by the Government, which is yet to be given a monetary value, provides greater livelihood opportunities for refugee families reducing their dependency on food and other assistance. This clarity of vision by the Government has enabled the United Nations Country Team to contribute to this pragmatic approach through the Refugee Host Community Empowerment Programe - ReHOPE.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Uganda is affected by a multiplicity of vulnerabilities: spillovers from conflicts in the surrounding countries, fragile border points and food insecurity in some regions, among others. The regions primarily affected by these complexities are also home to the most vulnerable in the country. It is this confluence of factors that compounds the vulnerability of Uganda and places an enormous stress on its economy, social services and attainment of its middle income status by 2040 as envisaged in the National Development Plan II.

Our High-level side event of today will be a precious moment to learn from Uganda’s leaders more about this unique strategy, its opportunities and challenges, as well as on how the whole world can better support this good neighborhood policy. 

The stress on Uganda, on its communities, public finances and the economy at large is currently being measured and of great concern. We do know that the poverty rate in affected communities is about 84% compared to a national average of 19.7%. This is one of the highest poverty rate variability in the world! And it is indeed unsustainable, especially when one factors in the environmental costs.

Uganda, however, presents an opportunity to transform vulnerabilities into opportunities. For example, Northern Uganda, home of most refugees, is now ripe with huge development potential. The latest Uganda National Human Development Report, which last week was acclaimed by UNDP as one of the four best Human Development Reports in the World, is quite eloquent in articulating the strategies and policy options needed to unlock the potential of Northern Uganda and address its multiple vulnerabilities. The Report persuasively argues for increased catalytic investments to ensure shared prosperity and well-being for the region particularly by targeting smallholder farmers, developing the mining sector, improving infrastructure and engaging local communities in their own development.

I am confident that our meeting, today, will enable us to convey our support for

Uganda’s spirit of generosity and hospitality which is quite unique. It is inspiring and transformational; it is to be emulated and it is to be further supported; and on a larger scale. 

I wish this side event all the success.

I thank you.

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