Speech to Uganda Solidarity Summit

Friday 23 June 2017

Uganda, your story of development, and progress, is extraordinary. Yet we know that it is placed at real risk by the conflict, and uncertainty, that lies just beyond your borders. You could have chosen to turn away from it. Put up walls to the problems of others. But no, Uganda has had the courage to step up.

Even as more than half a million South Sudanese children have fled in terror across the border, and the refugee settlement at Bidi Bidi has swelled to become the biggest and fastest growing in the world, you still hold on to a deeply compassionate refugee policy.

On any measure of commitment, Uganda has delivered on its side of the global ‘compact’ to support a more effective response to refugees, which was agreed at the United Nations last year.

The same cannot be said for the international community.

As little as 16 per cent of the appeal for the South Sudan refugee response in Uganda, is funded. The response to the education emergency here, has bordered on ridiculous. Only a small fraction of the grossly inadequate appeal for education, has actually been delivered. To make matters worse, the funding provided has been short-term, and unpredictable, with no link between humanitarian action and long term development.

If we can’t get it right here in Uganda, a country that has agreed to be at the vanguard of developing a new and comprehensive approach for the world to support refugees, we won’t get it right anywhere. The fate of the entire global compact process for refugees, is at stake.

That’s why Save the Children is here to say to the international community that we must, and we can, do better. We have laid down our challenge, in a detailed plan to restore hope, and rebuild futures for the refugee children of South Sudan in Uganda, through education. While at the same time, strengthening the support systems for refugee host communities, who are in great need as well.

Our plan is comprehensive, yet also realistic.

It points to opportunities to tap new funding sources, not just traditional donors. This includes new World Bank funding windows for refugees, the Global Partnership for Education, Education Cannot Wait, and the idea pioneered by my fellow Education Commissioners, to create an International Finance Facility for Education.

Most importantly, however, our plan provides a tangible and practical example, of how the international community can work better together, to deliver for refugees. Responding to an education emergency not just with short term thinking, and half measures, but with a real plan of action, to give some of the most vulnerable children in our world, the chance at a quality education and hope for the future.

The stakes have never been higher. You have all heard from the children who are suffering what it means to get an education. Education stops wars. Education ends poverty. And if we don’t help these children right now with education, there is no way we will live up to Sustainable Development Goal 4 that we have promised the world’s children. And even more troubling than that, these children will know that the international community did not step up even though we knew it was needed.

Let us reverse this now. Let’s give these children hope. Let’s give the world some hope.

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