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2014 UNHCR country operations profile - Uganda

| Overview |

Working environment

  • The deteriorating security situation since 2012 in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), especially in North Kivu and Province Orientale, has been the cause of Congolese refugees fleeing to Uganda. In July 2013, the situation worsened with attacks on Kamango town, in the northern part of North Kivu province, resulting in an influx of over 66,000 Congolese into Bundibugyo District in Uganda. In response, an emergency relief operation was mounted and the Bubukwanga transit centre in Bundibugyo District opened, with refugees being transferred thereafter to Kyangwali refugee settlement in Hoima District.

  • Uganda passed its Refugee Act in 2006 and Refugee Regulations in 2010, thus incorporating its international obligations into domestic law. A refugee policy, drafted by the Government with technical advice from UNHCR, to guide the implementation of the act and regulations is expected to be formulated as the next step in this process.

  • Overall, Uganda continues to have a generous asylum policy, welcoming refugees from neighbouring states. The Government receives, registers and issues civil documents to refugees and decides on asylum applications and appeals with the support of UNHCR.

  • Asylum-seekers arriving in the border regions have access to existing public services and facilities such as water, sanitation, health centres and schools, as well as natural resources such as firewood, which are shared with the local community. In addition, the Government deploys civil servants, health workers and teachers to refugee settlements, and the national medical stores contribute medical supplies and associated staff to UNHCR's refugee operations.

  • The Government of Uganda allocates land for refugee settlements to use for housing and farming, for those refugees willing to grow their own food and sell their surplus produce. Compared to camps, which are not found in Uganda, settlements such as the ones in Uganda provide greater livelihood opportunities for refugee families to achieve socio-economic security, reducing their dependency on food and other assistance. The Government's refugee policy permits freedom of movement as long as refugees living outside settlements can support themselves. To this end, and to better respond to the specific challenges the urban refugee population faces, UNHCR and its partners will continue to implement coordinated protection and livelihood solutions strategies adapted to the urban context.

  • For the largest settlements, owing to their size, significant infrastructure and budgetary challenges affect UNHCR's delivery of protection and life-sustaining assistance activities. Continued investments in access roads, security, protection, water, sanitation, health, nutrition and education are essential yet costly. Moreover, at the national level, the issue of land scarcity for hosting refugees in a country with a growing population and economy continues to be monitored, in order to avoid resource-based disputes, conflict and the potential displacement of nationals and refugees.

  • Opportunities for refugees to transition to legal residency status in Uganda are restricted. However, there have been recent indications of Government efforts to explore an alternative residency status as a potential solution to long-term displacement.

People of concern

The three largest populations of concern planned for under the Uganda operation in 2014 are: asylum-seekers and refugees originating from the DRC, Somalia and South Sudan, the vast majority of whom have arrived over the past five years.

The Congolese, representing two-thirds of the total refugee and asylum-seeker population in Uganda, have predominantly fled conflict and violence-prone areas in North Kivu province. Refugees and asylum-seekers from Somalia originate mainly from the insecure central and southern regions. Since 1989, Uganda has continuously hosted asylum-seekers and refugees who fled the prolonged conflict between the Sudanese Government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). Recent arrivals originate mostly from areas in South Sudan affected by local clashes and inter-tribal violence.

Planning figures

UNHCR 2014 planning figures for Uganda
TYPE OF POPULATION ORIGIN Dec 2013 Dec 2014 Dec 2015
Total in country of whom assisted
by UNHCR
Total in country of whom assisted
by UNHCR
Total in country of whom assisted
by UNHCR
Total 346,710 346,710 403,910 403,910 457,330 457,330
Refugees Dem. Rep. of the Congo 172,650 172,650 218,990 218,990 260,160 260,160
Somalia 23,570 23,570 27,120 27,120 29,770 29,770
South Sudan 16,980 16,980 17,090 17,090 21,730 21,730
Various 44,360 44,360 50,580 50,580 54,520 54,520
Asylum-seekers Dem. Rep. of the Congo 8,420 8,420 8,710 8,710 9,000 9,000
Eritrea 4,460 4,460 4,610 4,610 4,770 4,770
Somalia 7,590 7,590 7,840 7,840 8,110 8,110
Various 8,560 8,560 8,850 8,850 9,150 9,150
Returnee arrivals during year (ex-refugees) Uganda 20 20 20 20 20 20
Stateless people Stateless 100 100 100 100 100 100
Others of concern Uganda 60,000 60,000 60,000 60,000 60,000 60,000

| Response |

Needs and strategies

Programme responses in 2014 will focus on: maintaining emergency preparedness and capacity in the country; enabling access to legal and physical protection; ensuring effective delivery of basic services in primary health care, nutrition, education, water, sanitation, hygiene, shelter, infrastructure, access roads and domestic supplies for recent arrivals and the existing population; and supporting the enhancement of prospects for and achievement of durable solutions.

Planned response strategies in protection, basic services, and capacity-building of local authorities are based on the results of participatory needs assessments, resource projections, and an inter-agency and governmental consultative process. Strategies build on achievements made in 2013.

In 2014, UNHCR plans to continue capacity-building initiatives with the Government and partners to increase the quality of responses, partnerships and impact. Additionally, UNHCR will focus on working more closely with the Government, development agencies and partners in advocating for strategic support to host community priorities in refugee hosting areas.

| Implementation |

Coordination

The Office of the Prime Minister's Refugee Department, as the principal government agency overseeing refugee matters, and UNHCR jointly coordinate responses to address the protection and assistance needs of refugee operations, both for emergencies and ongoing programmes. This ensures effective consultations and coordinated responses between government institutions and UNHCR, supported by local and international NGOs and United Nations partner agencies.

Strategic inter-agency coordination and information-sharing meetings take place at the country level as well as at the district level, where there is an increased focus on coordinating protection and basic services solutions.

2014 UNHCR partners in Uganda
Implementing partners
Government agencies: District governments of Adjumani, Arua and Kiryandongo, Nsamizi Training Institute for Social Development, Office of the Prime Minister
NGOs: Action Africa Help - Uganda, Africa Humanitarian Action, African Initiative for Relief and Development, American Refugee Council, Danish Refugee Council, Humanitarian Initiative, InterAid Uganda, Just Relief Aid, Lutheran World Federation, Medical Teams International, Nsamizi Training Institute for Social Development, Pentecostal Church of Uganda, Uganda Red Cross Society, Windle Trust - Uganda
Operational partners
Government agencies: District Governments of Bundibugyo, Hoima
NGOs: Adventist Development and Relief Agency, African Centers for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims, Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development, Concern, Finnish Refugee Council, GOAL, Human Rights Network - Uganda, Humedica, Jesuit Refugee Services, Malteser, Marie Stopes, Médecins sans Frontières, Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, Public Defenders Association of Uganda, Real Medicine Foundation, Refugee Law Project, Samaritan's Purse, Save the Children, War Child, Welthungerhilfe, World Harvest Mission, World Vision
Others: FAO, ICRC, IOM, OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNV, WFP, WHO

| Financial information |

Over the last four years, the financial requirements for UNHCR's operation in Uganda have risen from USD 53.5 million in 2010 to a revised 2013 budget of USD 92.4 million, and continue to grow. The increase has been driven primarily by the growth in population and needs as a result of the continuous influxes into the country from the eastern DRC that began in the first quarter of 2012. In 2014, the financial requirements for Uganda are set at USD 117.6 million, largely reflecting the continued response to the emergency influx from the eastern DRC.

Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2014-2105


UNHCR contact information

The UNHCR Representation in Uganda
Style of Address The UNHCR Representative in Uganda
Street Address Plot 18, Prince Charles Drive Kololo,
Kampala, Uganda
Mailing Address P. O. Box 3813
Kampala, Uganda
Telephone +256 41 4231231
Facsimile +256 51 4256989
Email ugaka@unhcr.org
Time Zone GMT + 3:00
Working Hours
Monday:AM: 8:00 - 13:00, PM: 14:00 - 17:30
Tuesday:AM: 8:00 - 13:00, PM: 14:00 - 17:30
Wednesday:AM: 8:00 - 13:00, PM: 14:00 - 17:30
Thursday:AM: 8:00 - 13:00, PM: 14:00 - 17:30
Friday:AM: 8:00 - 14:00
Saturday:
Sunday:
Public Holidays 3 January 2011, New Year's Day (observed)
26 January 2011, Liberation Day
22 April 2011, Good Friday
25 April 2011, Easter Monday
02 May 2011 - Labour Day
31 August 2011, Eid Al-Fitr
10 October 2011, Independence Day
7 November 2011, Eid Al-Adha
23 December 2011, Christmas Day (observed)
26 December 2011, Boxing Day
UNHCR Sub Office Arua, Uganda
Style of Address The UNHCR Head of Sub Office in Arua, Uganda
Street Address Plot 66/67 Weatherhead Park Lane Arua, Uganda
Mailing Address P.O Box 847 Arua, Uganda
Telephone +256 476 420 003
Facsimile +256 476 420 401
Email ugaar@unhcr.org
Time Zone GMT + 3:00
Working Hours
Monday:AM: 8:00 - 1:00, PM: 2:00 - 5:30
Tuesday:AM: 8:00 - 1:00, PM: 2:00 - 5:30
Wednesday:AM: 8:00 - 1:00, PM: 2:00 - 5:30
Thursday:AM: 8:00 - 1:00, PM: 2:00 - 5:30
Friday:AM: 8:00 - 2:00
Saturday:
Sunday:
Public Holidays 03 January 2011, New Year Day
26 January 2011, Liberation Day
22 April 2011, Good Friday
25 April 2011, Easter Monday
02 May 2011, Labour Day
31 August 2011, Eid-el-fitr
10 October 2011, Independance Day
07 November 2011, Eid-el-Adha
23 December 2011, Christmas
26 December 2011, Boxing Day
The UNHCR Sub-Office Mbarara
Style of Address The UNHCR Head of Sub-Office at Mbarara
Street Address Plot 8 Bishop Link Road,
Mbarara, Uganda
Mailing Address P.O Box 391 Mbarara,
Uganda
Telephone + 256 485 420967
Facsimile "No Fax Services"
Email UGAMB@unhcr.org
Time Zone GMT + 3:00
Working Hours
Monday:AM: 8:00 - 13:00, PM: 14:00 - 17:30
Tuesday:AM: 8:00 - 13:00, PM: 14:00 - 17:30
Wednesday:AM: 8:00 - 13:00, PM: 14:00 - 17:30
Thursday:AM: 8:00 - 13:00, PM: 14:00 - 17:30
Friday:AM: 8:00 - 14:00
Saturday:
Sunday:
Public Holidays 3 January 2011, New Year's Day (Observed)
26 January 2011, Liberation Day
22 April 2011, Good Friday
25 April 2011, Easter Monday
2 May 2011, Labour Day
30 August 2011, Eid-el-Fitr
10 October 2011, Independence Day
7 November 2011, Eid-Al-Adha
23 December 2011, Christmas Day
26 December 2011, Boxing Day
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Statistical Snapshot*
* As at mid-2013
  1. Country or territory of asylum or residence. In the absence of Government estimates, UNHCR has estimated the refugee population in most industrialized countries based on 10 years of asylum-seekers recognition.
  2. Persons recognized as refugees under the 1951 UN Convention/1967 Protocol, the 1969 OAU Convention, in accordance with the UNHCR Statute, persons granted a complementary form of protection and those granted temporary protection. It also includes persons in a refugee-like situation whose status has not yet been verified.
  3. Persons whose application for asylum or refugee status is pending at any stage in the procedure.
  4. Refugees who have returned to their place of origin during the first six months of 2013. Source: Country of origin and asylum.
  5. Persons who are displaced within their country and to whom UNHCR extends protection and/or assistance. It also includes persons who are in an IDP-like situation.
  6. IDPs protected/assisted by UNHCR who have returned to their place of origin during the first six months of 2013.
  7. Refers to persons under UNHCR's statelessness mandate.
  8. Persons of concern to UNHCR not included in the previous columns but to whom UNHCR extends protection and/or assistance.
  9. The category of people in a refugee-like situation is descriptive in nature and includes groups of people who are outside their country of origin and who face protection risks similar to those of refugees, but for whom refugee status has, for practical or other reasons, not been ascertained.
The data are generally provided by Governments, based on their own definitions and methods of data collection.
A dash (-) indicates that the value is zero, not available or not applicable.

Source: UNHCR/Governments.
Compiled by: UNHCR, FICSS.
Residing in Uganda [1]
Refugees [2] 192,611
Asylum Seekers [3] 23,246
Returned Refugees [4] 3
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Stateless Persons [7] 0
Various [8] 50,000
Total Population of Concern 265,860
Originating from Uganda [1]
Refugees [2] 5,433
Asylum Seekers [3] 3,090
Returned Refugees [4] 3
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Various [8] 50,000
Total Population of Concern 58,526
Government Contributions to UNHCR
Contributions since 2000
YearUSD
2013 0
2012 0
2011 0
2010 0
2009 0
2008 0
2007 0
2006 0
2005 0
2004 0
2003 0
2002 0
2001 1,000
2000 0

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Uganda Emergency Update

Covering Congolese and South Sudanese Emergency

Uganda: Sudanese Refugees Flee Rebel Attacks

On August 5, 2002, some 24,000 Sudanese refugees fled their homes in Achol-Pii camp in northern Uganda after a bloody attack by the Lord's Liberation Army rebel group. More than 60 refugees and many local villagers were killed in the attack.

Fearing further violence, displaced refugees trekked overnight to Lira, from where UNHCR trucked them to Kiryondongo, 100 km to the south-west. Kiryondongo site, a settlement already hosting 13,000 refugees, was temporarily extended to accommodate the Achol-Pii survivors until another site could be prepared.

Arriving families were initially accommodated at an expanded reception centre at Kiryondongo. After being registered, the new arrivals received UNHCR plastic sheeting, an emergency food ration and a 20 x 15-metre plot per family to build their own temporary shelter. UNHCR also distributed blankets and jerry cans. Additional latrines were also dug, new water pumps installed and a new emergency clinic was set up.

Uganda: Sudanese Refugees Flee Rebel Attacks

Nyakabande: A haven in Uganda from the storm in North Kivu

The Nyakabande Transit Centre in southern Uganda was reopened by UNHCR and the Ugandan government in February 2012 to cope with a growing number of Congolese civilians crossing the border to escape general lawlessness in Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC) North Kivu province. Initially designed to cope with 500 people, the transit centre has been swamped with new arrivals fleeing waves of violence since April between DRC government forces and fighters from the rebel M23 movement. UNHCR helped expand capacity to 11,000 people and arranged transport from the border, but the inflow placed a severe strain on the facilities. The centre has registered and assisted more than 51,000 people since January, most of them from North Kivu. At its peak, last July, the transit centre was hosting more than 10,000 refugees. In a bid to decongest the centre, UNHCR provided transport for more than 30,000 Congolese to the refugee settlement at Rwamwanja, some 350 kilometres to the north of Nyakabande. For many of those fleeing eastern DRC, Nyakabande was a beacon of hope and a haven from the storm convulsing their home region. The latest fighting in North Kivu in November has not had much of an impact, but people still arrive daily.

Nyakabande: A haven in Uganda from the storm in North Kivu

Congolese in Uganda: from flight to settlement

After three years of relative peace, waves of combat erupted again in Democratic Republic of the Congo's North Kivu province in April 2012, causing major population displacement. Fighting in North Kivu's Rutshuru territory between government forces and rebel fighters from the M23 movement caused tens of thousands of Congolese civilians to seek shelter across the border in Uganda, mainly in the Kisoro district. Many joined UNHCR-organized convoys to the settlement of Rwamwanja, which was opened last April to deal with the influx. By the end of 2012, the settlement was hosting more than 30,000 refugees. Each refugee family is given a plot of land on which to construct a home and plant crops and encouraged to become self-sufficient. UNHCR wants to urgently improve infrastructure at the settlement and has appealed for supplementary funding.

This photo set follows one family at Rwamwanja, led by 52-year-old Harerimana. The family lived in the Rutshuru town of Bitwo but fled when it came under attack last June. Harerimana became separated from his family and spent five days on the road on his own before finding his relatives in the forest. After two weeks, they crossed into Uganda and reached Nyakabande Transit Centre. They then registered to be moved to Rwamwanja, where the extended family now lives on two plots of land.

Congolese in Uganda: from flight to settlement

The suffering and strength of displaced Congolese women

During the ceaseless cycle of violence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, it is the vulnerable who suffer the most, especially women and children. The issue of widespread sexual and gender-based violence is a major concern for UNHCR, but it never goes away. The refugee agency has received dozens of reports of rape and assault of women during the latest wave of fighting between government forces and rebel troops as well as militia groups in North and South Kivu provinces. It is an area where rape is used as a weapon of war.

The fear of sexual and physical violence forces thousands of women to seek refuge away from their homes or across the border in countries such as Rwanda and Uganda. Often their menfolk remain behind and women become the heads of household, looking after young children. They are the bedrock of society, yet they are often the first to suffer when instability comes to their home areas.

The following images were taken recently in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda by Frédèric Noy. They depict Congolese women who have fled their homes, leaving almost everything behind, and sought shelter in a place they hope will be better than where they came from. In many ways they have become inured to hardship, but so many of them continue to retain hope for themselves and their children. And that is an inspiration to those who help them.

The suffering and strength of displaced Congolese women

Matiop's First Days as a Refugee in Uganda

After fighting engulfed his hometown of Bor in South Sudan last December, Matiop Atem Angang fled with his extended family of 15 - including his 95-year-old mother, his six children and his sister's family. They left the capital of Jonglei state, one of the areas worst affected by the violence of the last two months. A one-week journey by boat and truck brought them to safety in neighbouring Uganda.

At the border, Matiop's large family was taken to a UNHCR-run transit centre, Dzaipi, in the northern district of Adjumani. But with thousands of South Sudanese refugees arriving every day, the facility quickly became overcrowded. By mid-February, the UN refugee agency had managed to transfer refugees to their own plots of land where they will be able to live until it is safe for them to go home. Uganda is one of very few countries that allow refugees to live like local citizens. These photos follow Matiop through the process of registering as a refugee in Uganda - an experience he shares with some 70,000 of his compatriots.

Matiop's First Days as a Refugee in Uganda

A Refugee Settlement Rises Again in Northern Uganda

Fighting in South Sudan between government troops and rival forces since December has displaced tens of thousands of people, many of whom have sought shelter at temporary transit and reception centres just inside northern Uganda. The UN refugee agency has since early January reopened three former refugee settlements and moved an estimated 50,000 to these sites deeper inside Uganda, where it is easier to provide them with protection and assistance. After being taken by truck to one such settlement, Nyumanzi I, lying some 30 kilometres from the border, the new arrivals are given relief items such as food, blankets, mats and kitchenware as well as a plot of land from the government on which to build a shelter. The settlement has been filling up quickly. UNHCR and partners have been working around the clock to build roads, install water distribution networks and provide access to health care. By early February, homes and small shops had sprung up across the settlement as the South Sudanese got on with their lives while closely monitoring the situation back home in the hope of one day returning.

A Refugee Settlement Rises Again in Northern Uganda

Uganda: Unique Approach For South SudanesePlay video

Uganda: Unique Approach For South Sudanese

Uganda has taken in thousands of South Sudanese refugees fleeing conflict. The government is helping the new arrivals by giving them land on which to build a shelter.

Uganda: New Camp, New ArrivalsPlay video

Uganda: New Camp, New Arrivals

Recent fighting in eastern Congo has seen thousands of civilians flee to a new camp, Bubukwanga, in neighboring Uganda.

Uganda: The Long WaitPlay video

Uganda: The Long Wait

For more than a decade, nearly 2 million people have been confined to camps in areas of northern Uganda where the rebel Lord's Resistance Army operates. With peace negotiations under way, the displaced are slowly returning to their homes and UNHCR is trying to help them restart their lives.
Uganda: The gift of educationPlay video

Uganda: The gift of education

As the violence in northern Uganda abates, UNHCR helps children go back to school.
Breaking Down The BarriersPlay video

Breaking Down The Barriers

See how sexual and gender-based violence is being addressed in a Ugandan refugee camp.