Museveni Explains Why He Opened Ugandan Borders to Refugees

President Museveni addressing government leaders at Kyankwanzi on Tuesday

President Yoweri Museveni has heartily commended Ugandans who have afforded refugees from South Sudan a warm welcome to the country, cheap as well as those that have ensured a safe and comfortable stay to the rest of the refugees from elsewhere, information pills currently residing in the various settlement camps.

As the leader of the ruling NRM and its precursors (Fronasa, etc) for almost fifty years, President Museveni said on Tuesday that he could not be more grateful to these Ugandans for their strong sense of Pan Africanism.

“Uganda always welcomes the refugees from the African countries. As I speak today, there are: 207,921 refugees from Congo, 257,171 refugees from South Sudan, 36,758 refugees from Somalia, 2,772 refugees from North Sudan, 39,608 refugees from Burundi, 17,367 refugees from Rwanda, etc., etc,” remarked the President, with gratefulness.

Museveni was today delivering a key-note address as he opened the weeklong retreat of government ministers, permanent secretaries and NRM leaders at the National Leadership Institute in Kyankwanzi.

According to recent international reports, Uganda is ranked among the world’s best homes for refugees.

President Museveni told the leaders at Kyankwanzi, that accepting African refugees is “part of the solidarity with our African brothers and sisters.”

He noted however, that Uganda has made it a priority to welcome refugees as part of its long-term strategies.

“It is also a component of our Pan-Africanist strategy to work for the unity of Africa in order to ensure our prosperity and the prosperity of our African brothers and sisters,” he said.

“In other documents, we have informed Ugandans about unity, within Uganda and between Uganda and other African countries, being a medicine against poverty and under-development and for prosperity.”

The president elucidated that this friendliness has already paid off in terms of trade relations between Uganda and her neighbors, compared to other faraway countries.

“Our trade with our African brothers and sisters under EAC and COMESA today brings in US$ 2 billion. Our trade with EU, on the other hand, only brings in US$433 million per year; with China, US$54.7millions per year; with India, US$24.8million per year; with the USA, US$27.2 millions per year; etc. Yet we import so much from China, India, EU, UAE, etc.”

“Our African brothers and sisters are already supporting our prosperity by giving us US$2 billions of goods and services bought from us. This is in spite of the instability and the underdeveloped infrastructure still to be found in the region. How much more will they support our prosperity and we theirs when total peace is restored in this area and infrastructure is developed in the area?

Museveni noted that Uganda caring for the African refugees was not just charity but a good strategy.

“Our Banyarwanda comrades stayed here as refugees for 34 years (1960-1994). We gave them all the support we could afford. When they gained ascendance in Rwanda, they opened up that country for interaction, including trade, with East Africa. Today Uganda exports US$263 million worth of goods and services to Rwanda. Rwanda, in turn, is exporting US$78 million worth of goods to Uganda. Through Rwanda Airlines, Uganda is currently contributing about US$ 24.1 million to the prosperity of the people of Rwanda.”

“South Sudan, before the outbreak of the conflict in 2013, was contributing US$ 700 million per annum (exports and remittances) to the prosperity of the people of Uganda. You recently witnessed the exodus of 40,000 plus Ugandans that came back from South Sudan on account of the present conflict there. What were they doing there? Looking for prosperity.”

“Therefore, Ugandans should know that unity within Uganda and Pan-Africanism in the whole of Africa are not mere acts of solidarity but are also investments to create a better framework for the prosperity of all Africans.”

“I, therefore, salute Ugandans for welcoming our brothers and sisters, the African refugees as well as other African business persons. It is the cumulative, Pan-Africanist efforts of as many Africans as are enlightened on this point that will guarantee the prosperity of the African people.”


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