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UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Uganda


UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Uganda

1 December 1998

Basic Facts

What we do

Almost all refugees in Uganda have settled locally, they have access to agricultural land and are therefore producing part of their daily food requirements. The Government of Uganda and UNHCR give top priority to the self-reliance of refugees and so services provided to refugees will be mainstreamed into existing district structures. The agreed four-year transition strategy (1999- 2002) will benefit refugees and local populations alike. Voluntary repatriation remains the preferred durable solution, but the refugee population, mostly Sudanese cannot be repatriated due to the continuing civil war in southern Sudan. A settlement programme is therefore using agricultural land provided by the Ugandan Government. The skills and confidence acquired through self-reliance will serve the refugees equally well in their country of origin when they do return.

Who we help

Some 182,356 refugees: 166,924 from the Sudan, 6,970 from Rwanda, 4,462 from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and some 4,000 others.

Our requirements

US$ 20,428,100

Our offices

Kampala, Arua, Pakelle/Adjumani, Kitgum, Mbarara.

Our partners

Agency for Cooperation and Research Development (ACORD), Action Contre la Faim (ACF), Africa Humanitarian Action(AHA), Africa Education Fund (AEF), Aktion Africa Hilfe (AAH), Associazione Volontari per il Servizio Internazionale (AVSI), CARE, German Development Service (DED), Inter-Aid Uganda(IAU), Hugh Pilkington Charitable Trust (HPCT), Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Malteser Hilfsdienst (MHD), Oxfam, Uganda Red Cross/International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (URC/IFRC), Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), International Aid Sweden (IAS).


Uganda and its neighbours have been in severe turmoil during 1998. Internal insecurity because of regular rebel incursions have slowed the local settlement programme and made it difficult to gain access to the refugee settlements. Refugees and nationals have been attacked by insurgents. Continued fighting in southern Sudan, aggravated by long periods of drought and excessive rains, have made voluntary repatriation only a remote possibility. However, the Government of Uganda has a progressive and liberal asylum policy, and the practice of providing land to refugees, instead of keeping them in camps, has eased the strain on food assistance.

Those in need of protection and assistance

Sudanese comprise 90 per cent of the refugee population in Uganda. They have been fleeing the war in southern Sudan since the early 1990s. In March 1997, some 50,000 Sudanese refugees returned home to the Yei area in southern Sudan, when the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) captured certain areas from the Government of the Sudan. However, some of them have returned to Uganda as spontaneously settled refugees. Refugees from Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo living in Uganda since 1994, do not yet demonstrate a desire to return to their countries of origin. However, a group of 9,500 refugees voluntarily repatriated to the Kamango enclave in DRC. The last convoy arrived just before the outbreak of the rebellion in early August 1998. The latest developments in the Great Lakes region are certainly not conducive to repatriation. In fact, contingency plans for a possible refugee influx, from the DRC, in particular, are constantly being updated. The group of Somali refugees, numbering just under 1,000, presents some problems, as many of these refugees are suspected to have come through Kenya. The usual durable solutions (repatriation, local integration or resettlement) are not easily applied to them.

Some 400,000 persons are displaced inside Uganda, most of them in the north. Assistance to these persons is coordinated by the UN Disaster Management Team, of which UNHCR is an active member.


UNHCR and the Government work to increase the self-reliance of refugees - not only by helping them become self-sufficient in food production, but by providing skills training, confidence-building activities, and increasing their income-generating potential. Where feasible, voluntary repatriation will still be promoted.

Protection and solutions

UNHCR has been supporting the Government in drafting a national refugee law, which will be presented to parliament in early 1999. The agency also trains Government officials active in refugee status determination and others on protection issues. Though UNHCR constantly monitors opportunities for voluntary repatriation, at the moment, there are few. The interim solution of increased self-reliance for refugees, through food production and the integration of services for refugees in national structures, has the full support of the Government and the international community.

Women and children

Women's involvement is promoted in all activities, from food distribution to adult literacy to leadership training. In the refugee self-reliance programme, women are also key actors in raising awareness about the increased role of refugees in managing their daily activities. Some twenty per cent of refugee children benefit from a successful primary education project, and there is a skills training programme essentially for unaccompanied minors. A special feeding programme is also provided for refugee children under the age of five who are malnourished.


UNHCR started an environment project in 1996 that includes reforestation, the introduction of energy-saving devices, environment-awareness campaigns and local capacity-building activities for forestry departments in districts affected by refugees. Areas formerly used as transit camps have now been transformed into wood lots. Other activities to protect the environment are tree marking and the control of the sale of firewood.


Refugees will be involved in a number of economic activities for which they can be trained and given access to small-credit schemes. Vocational and small business training will also be introduced to make these economic activities successful. However, more income-generating activities should be developed.


UNHCR has excellent relations with the Government of Uganda, which has now a special Minister for Emergency Preparedness and Refugees. This kind of coordination will have to be extended to the district level. United Nations inter-agency coordination has improved recently, with regular meetings of the Heads of Agencies in the context of the United Nations Resident Coordinator system and joint efforts in case of emergency. Joint contingency plans have also be drawn up to ensure a proper response to a possible refugee influx or increased number of internally displaced persons.

Lessons learned

Local settlement is certainly the best solution short of repatriation. But the assumption of responsibility for refugee settlements by the Government is not easy. The transition from "parallel systems" for refugees to an integrated approach, in which refugees receive similar treatment as nationals, is a long process that requires sensitization of the refugees themselves, aid agencies working on their behalf, government authorities, particularly at the local level, and the donor community.


The most immediate risk to the planned activities is insecurity and continuous unrest in northern and western Uganda. The wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Sudan have had serious repercussions on security inside Uganda. Rebel activities have increased and could jeopardize the development of areas in which refugees live. Local districts are also unable to cope with the additional burden of providing services to the refugees.


The long-term strategy of UNHCR to mainstream services for refugees into district structures will have a positive impact on the development of northern Uganda, which has been marginalized over the last decades.

Budget US$

ActivitiesGeneral programmesSpecial Programmes
Domestic Needs/Household Support485,691
Water Supply574,560
Shelter/Other Infrastructures802,630
Community Services333,374
Crop Production1,374,438
Livestock/Animal Husbandry182,368
Legal Assistance/Protection331,374
Agency Operational Support1,944,558100,081
Programme Delivery Costs*4,146,000
Administrative Support607,500
Total GP + SP20,428,100

* Includes costs for protection, monitoring and coordination.