Refugee leaders hail Uganda for its open door policy

Hundreds of people including refugees and members of the host community re-echoed their commitment to solidarity with refugees and the urgent need for inclusive policies in Uganda.

During the Refugee-led Football gala, organized by the Refugee-led organizations network of Uganda (RELON) in partnership with Refugee led organizations (RLOs), refugee leaders hailed the Uganda government for its open door policy.

Lukendo Mbokani, the Executive Director at RELON noted that Uganda’s progressive policies towards refugees set a global benchmark.

“With an Open-door policy that allows refugees to move freely, work and access public services, Uganda sets a good example for inclusivity and compassion. However, while celebrating the achievements, it is crucial to advocate for more advancements in refugee rights for example through ensuring the right to work and freedom of association,” said Lukendo.

“There are challenges as far as the refugee right to association is concerned. The Refugee act of 2006, gives the refugees the right to associate just like local Ugandans.  Therefore RLOs are supposed to have a status as National NGOs, but unfortunately, the practice is totally different because the NGO Act 2016 treats refugees treated as foreigners, the status given to refugee led organizations is either continental or regional or foreign,” he added.

Kuol Arou Kuol, the Advocacy Officer at RELON appreciated government of Uganda for the freedom of movement within the country noting that there are still difficulties in freedom outside Uganda.

“We are finding difficulties as refugee leaders accessing platforms where decisions are made. For instance many refugee leaders were prevented from attending the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva. This restriction hampers the ability of leaders to represent and advocate for their populations effectively,” noted Kuol.

Robert Hakiza, the Executive Director of YARID said that the World Refugee Day serves as a reminder of the need for reconciliation and to address causes of displacement.

This day is something that reminds us of something very important. “As we are talking now, people are crossing into Uganda. We need to make sure we address the core or root causes, because if don’t touch the root causes, we will continue having more and more people coming in as refugees,” said Hakiza.

The leaders also noted that despite significant progress, challenges persist both in Uganda and globally. In light of these challenges, there is a strong call for refugee-led conferences to be held in countries with less restrictive visa policies.

“This would ensure true representation and allow refugee leaders to participate fully in global discussions,” said Hakiza.

The event, dubbed “Scoring for Solidarity” aimed at emphasizing the relevance of communal harmony and mutual support using the unifying power of sports, showcasing how football can transcend barriers, promote unity and integration in line with the World Refugee Day 2024, under the theme “Solidarity with Refugees

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