Adjumani: UNHCR cuts partners’ budgets by 40 percent

ADJUMANI: The United Nations High Commission for Refugees [ UNHCR ], the lead refugee agency, has effective this year reduced funding of its partners, Medical Team International [MTI]and Windle International, all working with refugees in Adjumani district.

Medical Team International is responsible for implementing health-related programmes while Windle International is responsible for education services among both refugees and host community in Adjumani district.

Vitali Maslouski, the senior protection officer of UNHCR and the acting team leader Adjumani said due a 40 percent budget cut to its partners was due to global challenges.

“We know that we are a big player in the refugee affairs as long as they are still here, but due to constraints and other emergencies we have decided to the budget reduce by 40 percent,” Vitali said.

He added that the responsibility of taking care of refugees is a collective responsibility of all stakeholders but not UNHCR alone.

The district LCV chairperson of Adjumani, Ben Anyama said the cut in the budget is going to cause a huge gap in service delivery, especially in the health and education sectors.

“Medical team international is funding essential medicines and staff in four health facilities where refugees get services, this will affect the district so heavily,” Anyama said.

“Instead of UNHCR cutting the budget, they should be increasing it because we still keep getting new refugees. We are not running away from our responsibility as government, we know our responsibility is to provide security, if not then they should take the refugees back to South Sudan,” Anyama said.

Anyama added that in order not to leave gaps in service delivery, we need a better plan for transitioning so that the district will be able to readjust its budget to fit the many refugees.

Moses Nyang the Refugee Welfare three Chairperson for Adjumani said, “It is very unfortunate that UNHCR is cutting the budget, and we have not been sensitised about the matter, this is going to affect many school-age going refugees since they cannot afford to take their children to private schools.”

He added that when MTI withdraws its support from some health facilities, access to some health essential medicines will be difficult for vulnerable refugees.

The district health officer, Dr. Dominic Drametu however remarked that the reduction in the budget will have a burden on the district facilities since the current facilities are stressed beyond their capacity.

“When the budget is cut by 40 percent it is going to affect staffing in the health facilities that are being supported by MTI and more than 100 staff will be laid off. I expect UNHCR to do this in a phased manner starting with less critical staff so that the district can adjust accordingly,” Drametu said.

In the education sector, Philip Akuku Kayakaya said a total of 417 teachers in primary schools are employed by Windle International Uganda, 83 secondary school teachers.

“90 percent of the budget for Windle International is funded by UNHCR and this will translate into an increased teacher-pupil ratio of 1:234 pupils from the initial 1:10 last academic year,” Akuku explained.

Christopher Nyalonga, the manager MTI said they have been supporting five health centre IIs and six health centre IIIs with one health IV.

He said they have negotiated with UNHCR to continue supporting them for the next three months before withdrawing the support they have been giving some health facilities.

According to data obtained from Windle International by last year, 46,157 pupils enrolled in the 33 primary schools supported by Windle International 81 percent are refugees and 19 percent are nationals while 3,355 were in secondary schools 69 percent are refugees and 31 percent are nationals.

Uganda implements the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework [CRRF] and Global Compact on Refugees [GCR], emphasizing the inclusion of refugees into national systems, particularly in the education, health, and livelihood sectors.

By the end of December 29, 2022, UNHCR had received just 48 percent of its 2022 funding requirement of US$ 343.4 million to respond to the needs of refugees in Uganda, as determined at the start of last year.

According to UNHCR by 30 November 2022, Adjumani was hosting 206,666 refugees in 19 different settlements and Uganda hosts over 1.5mln refugees and asylum-seekers mainly from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC], and Burundi and is the country hosting the most refugees in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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