European Union Emergency Trust Fund Launches the Support Programme for Refugee Settlements to improve food security and livelihoods

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Refugee Women sorting vegetables
Women from the Mungula 1 refugee settlement and host community sort vegetables together in preparation of a meal to be served on the launch day.

In a celebratory mood, small crowds of women, men and youth walk towards Mungula primary school in Mungula 1 Refugee Settlement, one of the already established camps in Adjumani district built to accommodate over 30,000 refugees in northern Uganda, just across the border from South Sudan. Clearly, their positive attitude is facilitated by their integration facilitated with the peaceful co-existence with the 

Refugee youth perform at the launch event 

The occasion to which the crowd proceeds, is the launch of the Support Programme for Refugee Settlements and Host Communities in Northern Uganda (SPRS-NU) funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) and aimed at supporting aspects of stability contribute to better migration management as well as addressing the root causes of destabilization, forced displacement and irregular migration in the Horn of Africa.

The SPRS-NU inauguration happens at a time of the rapidly expanding refugee influx in neighboring Uganda as a result of growing turmoil in South Sudan. The current civil war in South Sudan began in December 2013. Although it was triggered by disagreements within the government, its roots are historical and relate to the failure to create inclusive modes of governance in the newly independent country.

According to the UNHCR statistics (30th January 2017), of the 692,613 South Sudan refugees in Uganda, 64% are children below the age of 18 while 86% of this population are women and children whose critical needs must be addressed as a human right.

The critical needs of these refugees after settlement include enhanced livelihoods, provision of safe water and environmental sanitation conditions, skills for labor market relevance, conflict management and accelerated learning among others that are funded in this project by the EUTF to promote resilience, economic and equal opportunities, security and development and addressing human rights’ abuses.

In the presence of over 2,000 refugees and host communities, Hon. Hilary Onek and the European Union (EU) Head of Cooperation in Uganda, Michelle Labeeu, inaugurated the 10 million Euros SPRS-NU project with planting of trees at Mungula 1 refugee settlement in Itirikwa sub-county.

In her address during the launch of the programme, Ms. Michelle Labeeu commended Uganda’s exemplary hospitality and progressive refugee policies and added that “Uganda is not alone. Uganda can keep counting on the European Union’s support for handling such a challenging endeavor”. In furtherance, Ms Labeeu announced the decision of the European Union to add further 10 million Euros to the programme allowing to expand interventions to other effected districts.

 SPRS-NU is a 3-year programme implemented through three components: (i) Water and sanitation (WASH) component, managed by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA); (ii) Skills development & entrepreneurship training, managed by the Belgian Techincal Cooperation (BTC) Agency; and (iii) the Livelihoods, Conflict Management, Educational and Knowledge components, managed by a NGO Consortium, led by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) consisting of the Save the Children, ZOA & CEFORD.
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Ambassador Hugo Verbist and Belgian Artist Daan Stuyven plant a tree at Mungula refugee settlement

On this occasion, Minister Onek and the Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to Uganda, Ms. Michelle Labeeu, planted trees in commemoration of the inauguration of the SPRS-NU. The Ambassador of Belgium Mr. Hugo Verbist, and the Head of Austrian Development Agency Mr. Günter Engelits, also planted trees alongside refugees and host community members to signify a dignified co-existence of refugees and host communities in the refugee districts of northern Uganda including Adjumani, Arua and Kiryandongo.

Officiating as Guest of Honor, Minister Onek noted that Uganda has on its soil almost 1 million refugees and more than 85 per cent of the refugees currently arriving in Uganda are women and children under the age of 18 who lack access to proper shelter, food and health facilities, among other basic necessities

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