Sweden and Germany support refugees in Uganda

A family of the Madi tribe returns home from a refugee camp in Uganda,

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has commended Sweden and the Federal Republic of Germany for contributions to food and cash support for 1.4 million refugees in Uganda at a time when a surge of COVID-19 and its economic impact are threatening lives and livelihoods across the country.

Lauded for having some of the world’s most progressive refugee policies, Uganda hosts one of the largest refugee populations in the world. Sweden contributed SEK10 million (US$1.2 million) and Germany, through the German Federal Foreign Office, gave a total of €3.6 million (US$4.4 million) for 2021 to 2023 as part of €35 million flexible funding to Eastern Africa.

Food assistance

The contributions will help WFP to provide food assistance or cash-based transfers to refugees. Refugees living in settlements receive monthly in-kind food assistance consisting of maize, beans, fortified oil and salt or cash to buy food, which injects money into local economies.

“We appreciate the Federal Republic of Germany and Sweden for stepping forward to ensure Uganda continues to support refugees to survive during this difficult pandemic. We cannot, however, play down the threat of hunger that still looms over refugees,” said WFP Uganda Country Director El-Khidir Daloum.

“It is important that donors continue to fund Uganda’s refugee response. If refugees are battling hunger daily, this undermines moves toward self-reliance under the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework,” he added.

Reduced funding

Refugees in Uganda currently receive 60 percent of a full ration, or the equivalent in cash, due to reduced funding. WFP needs a total of US$105 million this year for refugees but has received only 24 percent so far.

“The challenges refugees face during the COVID-19 pandemic are enormous and the situation is deteriorating. Germany is committed to keeping up our cooperation with WFP – and our support to Uganda’s refugee response – to ensure that refugees live a life free from hunger. But we need more donors to join us,” said Matthias Schauer, German Ambassador to Uganda.

Per Lindgärde, Swedish Ambassador to Uganda, praised WFP for providing hope as well as assistance during the pandemic.

“It is important that amid a global pandemic, we do not forget the most vulnerable. Sweden is committed to ensuring refugees access the assistance they need, while also supporting their Ugandan neighbours in the refugee-hosting districts. Partnering with dedicated humanitarians such as WFP is an important part of this commitment,” he said.

Old partnership

WFP has a longstanding partnership with both Sweden and Germany in Uganda. In 2020, Sweden gave WFP US$4 million towards emergency cash transfers to over 62,000 children and pregnant and breastfeeding women in West Nile, buffering the impact of COVID-19 and reduced rations. This was part of Sweden’s US$25 million commitment to support Uganda’s efforts to improve resilience among refugees and host populations in West Nile through the Sida-funded WFP/UNICEF Child-Sensitive Social Protection programme.

Germany, through the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, also supports WFP’s school feeding, nutrition, and agriculture programmes, committing €16.5 million in valuable multi-year funding for 2018 – 2023.

WFP relies on Germany’s stable and long-term funds to sustainably support vulnerable families. All this support is in addition to global allocations of flexible funding to WFP in Uganda from Sweden for crisis response and from Germany for resilience building. These funds have been a lifeline not only for the refugee response but also for nutrition programmes in Karamoja.

In addition to the contributions from Germany and Sweden, WFP Uganda has so far this year received US$61 million and maize meal worth $1 million from the United States, €4.5 million from ECHO, US$1.6 million from Canada, US$1 million from Japan and 4,500 metric tons of rice worth US$4 million from the Republic of Korea.