Speaker asks World Bank to support refugee situation

The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has asked the World Bank to support Uganda in managing the refugee situation. Kadaga said that it was unacceptable for the country to borrow in order to accommodate refugees coming into the country.

“When such a situation arose, I expected the international community to come to our support instead of pushing us to borrow to sustain the refugees,” she said, while addressing a delegation from World Bank led by the new Country Manager, Tony Thompson. 

The delegation paid a courtesy call on the Speaker at Parliament Building today, Wednesday 24 October, 2018. Members of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank also attended the meeting.

Uganda is host to over one million refugees, many of them flocking in from the conflict prone neighbouring countries of South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“I was opposed to the idea of Uganda being forced to borrow in order to take care of the refugees. We hope you have come up with a structure to support the country when hosting refugees to provide grants,” Kadaga added.

In May this year, the Speaker made a similar plea to a high level mission of six UN agencies - UNDP, UNOPS, UNICEF, UNFPA, WFP and UN Women saying that Uganda needed more financial support to be able to properly accommodate the growing number of refugees.

The mission was in Uganda to assess the organisation’s work in supporting the country’s development efforts.

The Speaker also reminded the World Bank about what she termed as the “limping project”, the Lake Victoria Project funded by World Bank to support the construction of landing sites and rehabilitation of ferries.

“Some gazetted areas like Arua have been handled while Jinja and Port Bell are still pending; my prayer is that you handle them,” she said. 

Speaker also said that there was need to keep up to date with the economic policies decided by the World Bank. 

Thompson said that the international community is enormously grateful for Uganda opening its doors to refugees saying, “we look up to you as a model”. 

He said that the World Bank was introducing a new a grant window intended to facilitate refugee-hosting communities. Part of the grant, Thompson said, will be a free loan meant for the refugees, while the other intended to support the host community will be interest free.

Thompson said that he has always been following the Lake Victoria Project to make sure that the landing sites and ferries at Port Bell and Jinja are constructed and restored respectively.

“We appreciate and value the role that you play especially when it comes to approving any laws and resolutions taken on by the government through the World Bank,” he said, adding that, “We want to make sure that what we do is well aligned with the interests of Parliament.”