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25 March 2019, KAMPALA (Uganda): The Minister of Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees of Uganda, Hon. Hilary Onek, this morning opened the “Regional Thematic Meeting on Livelihoods and Self-reliance for Refugees, Returnees and Host Communities” in Kampala organised by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in collaboration with the Government of Uganda.

Minister of State of Youth and Children Affairs of Uganda – Hon. Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi, was in attendance at the high table along with the Director of Health & Social Division at IGAD – Ms Fathia Alwan, as well as representatives from the European Union, the UNHCR, and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The three-day gathering is a meeting of Experts to pave the way for a ministerial level meeting due to take place on Thursday 28 March at Speke Resort Munyunyo in Kampala.

The regional thematic meeting is bringing together IGAD Member States, development and humanitarian partners, as well as the private sector and the civil society groups from the humanitarian and development spheres to support these commitments.

Participants are drawn from IGAD Member States’ line ministries, including lead agencies that handle refugee matters; ministries of finance (treasury); ministries of planning and those responsible for local government (devolution, federalism or decentralization), as well as ministries of agriculture, livestock development and those responsible for labour.

Representatives of refugee and host communities, international finance institutions, partners engaged in securing durable solutions and the IGAD core group of partners to the Nairobi Plan of Action will are expected. Others include the private sector, civil society and the Diaspora who are champions for refugees.

The meeting is looking at a range of issues connected to the access of refugees and host communities to livelihood and economic opportunities including challenges accessing supporting services and functions (e.g. financial, information, training, infrastructure, business development services, etc.); as well as barriers in the regulatory and policy environment preventing refugees and host communities to fully take advantage of available opportunities.

In his inaugural speech, Hon. Onek said his belief that this forum was critical to “further explore mechanisms of promoting economic inclusion of refugees, returnees and host communities in the IGAD region”. He also noted that his country was “delighted to share good practices, lessons learnt and opportunities on the creation of jobs and livelihoods”.

In her opening remarks, the Director of Health & Social Division at IGAD-Ms Fathia Alwan, noted that IGAD started implementation of the Nairobi Declaration immediately after its adoption with support from partners such as the European Union, the German Agency for Development, and UNHCR among others. She added that promoting livelihoods and self-reliance was a “major concern for national and global stability and security”.

IGAD expects to achieve the following key outcomes from the deliberations in the next three days.

  • removing policy barriers both at national and regional levels;
  • strengthening regional coordination mechanisms for effective implementation;
  • a comprehensive action plan; and
  • a coherent results framework (M&E Tool) to track progresses.

Central to the principles of the Nairobi Declaration and Action Plan of March 2017 is the promotion of self-reliance and economic resilience for refugees, returnees and host communities. IGAD Member States have committed themselves to:

“Enhance, with the support of the international community, education, training and skills development for refugees to reduce their dependence on humanitarian assistance, and prepare them for gainful employment in host communities and upon return”

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