By Elias Biryabarema
KAMPALA – The European Union has offered 85 million euros ($94.89 million) to help fund relief operations for hundreds of thousands of refugees flowing into Uganda from neighbouring South Sudan, it said in a statement on Thursday.
The announcement came ahead of meeting in Uganda’s capital Kampala on Friday aimed at raising some $2 billion to plug funding shortages for the east African country’s surging refugee population. The money would fund operations for 12 months from June.
Uganda is hosting about 1.3 million refugees, of which an estimated 950,000 have arrived from South Sudan, displaced by the country’s escalating civil war.
“Many refugees have fled conflict in South Sudan, seeking sanctuary from violence, hatred and hunger. Uganda’s example of helping vulnerable people cope with displacement is an example for the whole region and the world,” Christos Stylianides, the EU’s commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, said in a statement.
Fighting broke out in Africa’s youngest nation in December 2013 between forces allied to President Salva Kiir and his then deputy, Riek Machar.
A peace deal in 2015 briefly halted the conflict, but lingering rivalry exploded into deadly warfare again in July last year.
The ensuing fighting and violence, which has often taken place along ethnic lines, has uprooted about a quarter of the country’s population, with both government troops and rebels accused of committing crimes including rape, killings and pillage.
Relief resources have become scarcer as Uganda has struggled to cope with the overwhelming numbers of South Sudanese refugees, forcing the U.N. food agency WFP to cut food rations.
Friday’s summit is jointly organised by the U.N. and Uganda and will be attended by U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
($1 = 0.8957 euros)
(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by George Obulutsa and Toby Davis)