The Embassy of Japan in Uganda today officially handed over 3,300 metric tones of rice worth US$2m to the government of Uganda, which also passed over the consignment to the World Food Programme (WFP) for distribution to refugees in five refugee camps in Southern Uganda.
The handover ceremony was held on Thursday Feb 13, 2020 at the WFP central region warehouse at Nalukolongo in Kampala.
Ambassador Kazuaki Kameda of Japan represented his government while Commissioner Gerald Menya, represented the government of Uganda.
Officials from the three parties; I.e Japan, WFP and Uganda government confirmed that the handover was only a symbolic function as the bulk of the rice that was donated has already been distributed to the refugees in the settlements of Kyaka II, Kyangwali, Rwamwanja, Nakivale and Oruchinga.
Commissioner Menya praised the government of Japan is supporting humanity by providing badly needed food. He also hailed the Japanese government for supporting other initiatives such as funding the construction of a Jure bridge that connects Yumbe to other districts of west Nile, home to majority of the refugees living in Uganda at the moment.
WFP Uganda country representative El-Khidir Daloum, who received the consignment from Commissioner Menya, also expressed gratitude to the Japanese government for the donation, noting that it has greatly helped to stabilise food urgent supplies for refugees over the past couple of months.
Daloum used the event to launch an appeal for the international community to supplement their existing food reserves as the current stock is scheduled to run out in May. He noted that since the 2017 Solidarity summit, WFP food operations has generally been stable, but that the high number of refugees is quickly exhausting the available stock.
Daloum also noted that the agency also faces a cash crisis the remaining funds are only able to allow WFP give out cash handouts for one more month. About one third of the refugees receive cash not physical food, and use the money to buy food and other essential items locally.
WFP Uganda along with other UN humanitarian agencies such as UNHCR, International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Uganda government are managing the third largest refugee operation in the world, by supporting the basic needs of close to 1.4 million refugees.
Only Pakistan and Turkey, have more refugees than Uganda.
Ambassador Kameda used the event to thank the host communities for the hospitality they have demonstrated towards the refugees by accepting to share social services such as schools, health centres.
The rice donation makes Japan one of the biggest contributors to the refugee challenge in Uganda in recent years. During the 2017 Solidarity Summit for Refugees that was hosted by the government of Uganda, Japan pledged and remitted US$10million and the money was channelled through three UN agencies.