By Kampala Post Reporter
President Yoweri Museveni has commended Germany for supporting efforts to manage the refugee crisis in Uganda.
Mr Museveni, who was meeting with the visiting German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Dr. Gerd Müller at State House Entebbe on Wednseday, said that while Uganda is able to handle the refugee crisis politically, there is need for logistical support to prevent a humanitarian crisis. He informed the Minister that it is easy to manage the refugee crisis politically in the country because Ugandans share culture with the refugees unlike in Europe where there is a cultural clash.
“The only problem we have with the refugee crisis is that of logistics but compatibility is the same,” he said.
President Museveni revealed to the visiting German Minister that talks are ongoing to unite the various factions of the South Sudanese leaders adding that it is his hope that the talks will succeed so that the refugees can go back to their livelihood in their country before the planting season is out.
“The dry season in Northern Uganda and South Sudan will start in November up to March. If we can unite these factions by February , people can go back and prepare their land for planting before the start of the wet season in mid-March,” Museveni said.
The Minister for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Hon. Hilary Onek, said that the current number of refugees in Uganda stands at 1.4 million and 1,050,000 of these are South Sudanese. He said that currently, the World Food Programme (WFP) has challenges of feeding the refugees, as the resources are not enough.
“The new refugees are being given two meals a day and the older ones one meal and this is not enough,” Onek said.
The Minister added that there is need for more schools and health centers in the refugee camps and areas. “The Education ratio in schools is bad as pupils to teacher ratio is now at 300 to one teacher and that the health centers are not enough as government initially planned for Ugandans not the refugees,” he said.
Dr. Müller who is in Uganda to visit the refugee camps and see how best Germany can assist Uganda with the refugee crisis commended President Museveni and his government for the refugee policy which has already received global recognition.
He said that the German government is committed to helping Uganda address the refugee crisis. Germany contributed over US$50 million during the Refugee Summit Meeting held in Munyonyo in June this year.
Dr. Müller said that his government would partner with Uganda in vocational training to empower the refugees with skills to improve their livelihoods.
Away from the refugee issues, President Museveni also welcomed the partnership between Uganda and Germany saying that Uganda has 297 constituencies and only 180 have vocational schools.
He said that Uganda needs education and infrastructure development so that the private sector can grow and create more job opportunities.
Mr. Museveni called for more cooperation between Uganda and Germany in manufacturing, agro-processing, automobile, pharmaceuticals, packaging and tourism.
“I have been trying to talk to Western countries to invest here. The Chinese are very active in the cement industry, steel industry, fertilizers and glass but the West is not interested. There are so many opportunities here but Europe is not bothered,” he said.
The German Ambassador to Uganda Dr. Albrecht Conze said that German companies such as Siemens are ready to come to Uganda.
Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon. Sam Kutesa, officials from the German Embassy and the Prime Minister’s Office, attended the meeting.