Hon. Sam Kutesa, Minister of Foreign Affairs, on Wednesday 14th December 2016 met with the Secretary-General designate, Antonio Guterres, congratulating him on his new role, and discussing matters related to the development cooperation and Uganda’s role in the region. Mr Guterres is the 9th Secretary-General of the United Nations. He was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015.
Hon Kutesa congratulated the new Secretary-General on his election stating that he was glad that the historic process for the selection of a new United Nations Secretary-General, traditionally decided behind closed-doors by a few countries, for the first time in UN history, changed, with the adoption of Resolution 69/321 during his (Kutesa’s) presidency.
He informed Mr Guterres that his reason for being in New York was to draw attention to Uganda’s refugee situation, stating that Uganda is hosting record numbers of refugees, with over 900,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, more than at any time in the country’s history. 80% are women and children. Majority from South Sudan, DRC, Burundi and Somalia. “If we do not address this situation realistically,” he said, “it will create pressures on our host communities”. Kutesa also took the opportunity to inform Mr. Gutteres that Uganda had plans to hold a Solidarity Conference in February 2017 to mobilize resources to invest in sustainable infrastructure which would go a long way in supporting refugees and host communities. He invited Mr. Guterres to attend the Conference.
Mr. Gutteres expressed his pleasure at the meeting, hailing Uganda’s open refugee policy which, he stated, was “a model for other countries around the world to emulate” He said that he had visited Uganda regularly in the past and looked forward to more visits in the future as well as to attending the Solidarity Conference.
The two also discussed Uganda’s role in the region, particularly in the stabilization of Somalia, the IGAD process in South Sudan, the Burundi peace process as well as the threat of the ADF and the LRA.
Hon Kutesa also took the opportunity to pay courtesy calls to several senior UN officials. He was accompanied by officials at Uganda’s Mission to the UN in New York.