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UN chief to attend Kampala refugee conference

KAMPALA- The Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres will attend the ‘Refugee Solidarity’ conference in Kampala next month.

The summit is expected to attract dignitaries from international organisations in an attempt to drum up support and mobilise resources for thousands of refugees being hosted in Uganda.

Mr Guterres confirmed attendance on Wednesday in New York during discussions with the newly-appointed envoy to Uganda’s multilateral Mission in New York Adonia Ayebare who was presenting his credentials.

Ambassador Ayebare, a journalist turned diplomat was early this year named Permanent Representative to the UN and ambassador to New York replacing  former Health State minister Richard Nduhura who was reassigned to Paris.

Previously, Mr Ayebare served as Uganda’s African Union Permanent Representative to the UN also based in New York and as Deputy Permanent Representative and Chargé d’Affaires at the same Mission.

He also served as Head of Mission to Rwanda and Burundi from 2002 to 2005, and was subsequently tapped as  principal adviser and special envoy of Uganda to the Burundian peace process at the time.

According to a statement issued by the head of public diplomacy in the ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ms Margaret Kafeero, Mr Guterres said he would attend the summit scheduled for June 22 to 23.

“The two discussed a number of issues particularly the current refugee crisis in Uganda and Uganda’s leadership role in key regional conflict areas like South Sudan and Burundi,” the statement reads in part.

The ‘Refugee Solidarity’ conference was mooted in January during a meeting between President Museveni and Mr Guterres, at the sidelines of 28th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Uganda is currently ranked as the second-largest refugee-hosting country in the world after Turkey with a refugee population nearing to one million.

The World Food Programme puts the monthly food requirement for the refugees to at least $12m (Shs42b).

The UN agency for refugees in Kampala, in a recent statement, indicated that last year they received only 40 percent of the $251m (Shs889 billion) requested for humanitarian assistance and this year they would need about $558 million (Shs2 trillion).

According to United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the country received more than half a million new refugees from South Sudan since fighting broke out in the youngest nation of the world in 2013 and most recently at least 1,367 have been arriving every day in wake of the ongoing crisis.

Another 215,309 arrived from DR Congo last year; 38, 176 from Somalia; 40,874 from Burundi; 11,328 from Eritrea; 3,103 from Sudan; 2,790 from Ethiopia, and 1,034 listed in the ‘others’ category.

©Alleastafrica and Daily Monitor

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