UNHCR welcomes Uganda Communications Commission directive to improve refugees' access to SIM cards

Uganda. Mobile access for refugees

A South Sudanese refugee buys airtime from a mobile phone vendor in Imvepi settlement, northern Uganda.  © UNHCR/Catherine Robinson

KAMPALA, Uganda – The UNHCR Representative in Uganda, Mr. Joel Boutroue has welcomed the directive by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), which will greatly improve access to SIM cards for refugees in Uganda.

The Uganda Communications Commission issued a directive on 13 of August to the Mobile Network Operators, clarifying this change and explaining the SIM card registration process for refugees. Until now, only the refugee ID card was accepted and this has made it difficult for refugees to access SIM cards. 

The new guidance on issuance of SIM cards to refugees outlines that:

  1. SIM cards can be issued to refugees who present a valid Refugee Registration document issued by the Office of the Prime Minister, serving as a valid refugee ID card.
  2. In the absence of a valid refugee ID card, consideration can be given to an Attestation Letter issued by the Office of the Prime Minister.
  3. The registration information pertaining to the individual on the refugee ID card or Attestation Letter should be properly captured in the SIM card registration, for a new SIM, SIM swap or SIM replacement.

“The new directive will enable the majority of refugees to legally access SIM cards and ease communication with families and also with UNHCR through the refugee helpline," said UNHCR's Boutroue. "Communication is a fundamental part of humanitarian response and is essential in ensuring accountability, transparency and operational effectiveness."

He commended Uganda for continuing to show solidarity with refugees and urged the international community to continue standing with Uganda.

UNHCR applauds the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and the Government of Uganda for its past, present and future commitment to the protection of refugees. Uganda currently hosts over 1.3 million refugees and is the largest refugee hosting country in Africa.

For more information on this topic, contact:

In Kampala: Yonna Tukundane, [email protected], +256775827490