Did the former UNHCR Representative in Uganda Undermine
the Government’s Refugee Policy?
Briefing on the Plight of Achol Pii Refugees and
Refugee Policy in Uganda
Relocation and UNHCR's Responsibility
The responsibility for ensuring physical safety for refugees in Uganda lies with the GoU. However, the UNHCR, too, has a responsibility to ensure that the GoU meets its international obligations. As such, the former should constantly be monitoring the condition for refugees and voice concern where it is deemed necessary. Unlike in the case of the Rwandese refugees from Tanzania (whose condition still remains appalling), in which UNHCR's position was flawed, the response of the UNHCR to the relocation of the Achol Pii refugees was consistent with its mandate of international protection and EXCOM Conclusion No. 46 (XXXVIII) 1987, in particular paragraph (f) on the protection of refugees, including the responsibility to take all possible measures to ensure physical security of refugees.
It is unfortunate that the government decided to interpret UNHCR's concerns as measures deliberately calculated to undermine its policy, and took the drastic measure of expelling the UNHCR representative in Kampala. The RLP deeply regrets this action because the UNHCR has taken the right decision in objecting to a decision on the part of the GoU that would compromise refugee protection.