Helping countries to help their neighbours – Foreign Minister Gabriel visits Uganda

14.08.2017 - Article

War and starvation have driven more than 1.3 million people from South Sudan across the border to Uganda. The neighbouring country’s willingness to help has so far managed to prevent an even greater migration crisis. Foreign Minister Gabriel wants to provide even more support to the country before it is too late.

Foreign Minister Gabriel visiting a refugee camp in in northern Uganda
Foreign Minister Gabriel visiting a refugee camp in in northern Uganda© photothek.net

Foreign Minister Gabriel has visited one of the world’s most important hot spots for refugees, displaced persons and migrants in Africa on Wednesday (9 July) – Uganda, the site of the third largest refugee crisis in the world. Up to 2000 people per day pour across the border to Uganda from South Sudan, fleeing brutal fighting and severe droughts. Uganda, a land-locked country at Lake Victoria, is nevertheless keeping its borders open for refugees. There is a huge willingness to help – Uganda does not only take in a large number of refugees, but is also a role model as regards their integration. Refugees only spend a short period of time in refugee camps in Uganda. They can move freely around the country, are allowed to work and are even allocated a plot of land.

Uganda needs help to provide this support

Gabriel with refugees from South Sudan
Gabriel with refugees from South Sudan© photothek.net

Uganda is doing its utmost to integrate refugees. However, it has pressing problems of its own. Youth unemployment has been growing ever higher for years and drought destroyed a large part of the harvest in the spring. Uganda urgently needs more support from the international community in order to be able to continue taking in people fleeing from South Sudan. The first part of his trip took Gabriel to Rhino Camp Refugee Settlement in northern Uganda, where around 50,000 refugees live. Gabriel met refugees and aid workers in the camp. “It is impressive that a country like Uganda, which is itself poor, is opening its borders to help people fleeing from the civil war in South Sudan,” he said after his visit.

Preventing a global migration crisis

Children at the Rhino Camp
Children at the Rhino Camp© Koehler/photothek.net

Gabriel said it was now important to provide support to Uganda. Neighbouring countries that help refugees must not be left to cope with the situation on their own. He thus wants to encourage a new approach. There must be better coordination of development cooperation and humanitarian assistance for refugees in the future. In particular, development projects must support communities that take in large numbers of refugees so that people in need can continue to find refuge. Germany has already provided over 60 million euros in aid to Uganda this year.

Supporting mediation efforts

Sigmar Gabriel with President Museveni
Sigmar Gabriel with President Museveni© Koehler/photothek.net

It was also important to combat the causes of migration and displacement, Gabriel said. In the case of Uganda, the focus here is on the ongoing civil war in South Sudan that is forcing people to leave their native country. In this context, cooperation between the neighbouring countries in Africa is particularly important. There was already good cooperation in the area around Lake Victoria between Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania, Gabriel said. The neighbouring countries should now be encouraged to mediate in the South Sudan conflict. Gabriel travelled directly from the refugee settlement to the Ugandan capital Kampala, where he met President Museveni. The agenda for their talks included the human rights situation and freedom of the press.

Find out more:

Uganda - Germany bilateral relations

South Sudan - Germany bilateral relations

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