Humanitarian and political background
Uganda is one of the main refugee hosting countries in the Horn of Africa region. The country hosts about 890,000 refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Burundi and Somalia.
NRC has been active in Uganda since 1997.
A generous refugee and asylum policy
Uganda has unique laws and regulations that promote the safety and wellbeing of refugees. The Refugee Act of 2006 stipulates that refugees have the right to free movement and work, to establish businesses, and to access public services like health care.
Uganda has also incorporated refugee protection and assistance programmes into its National Development Plan, through its settlement transformation agenda. The law and new strategies are positive signs for refugees’ prospects for future integration into local communities.
Influx from South Sudan
Following the outbreak of civil war in South Sudan in December 2013, the largest influx of refugees to Uganda in recent years has been from South Sudan. Currently, Uganda hosts around 590,000 refugees from the country. They mainly reside in the northern areas of Adjumani, Arua, Yumbe and Kiryandongo, and the capital Kampala.
The number of refugees from DRC, likewise, is estimated at around 260,000. They are mostly settled in Kampala, Rwamwanja, Nakivale and Kisoro. The number of refugees from Burundi has reached more than 53,000. They reside in Kampala and Nakivale.
A majority of refugees in Uganda are women and children: 86 per cent of those are from South Sudan, 78 per cent from DRC, and 73 per cent from Burundi. Children under 18 years constitute 64 per cent of the South Sudanese refugee population in northwest Uganda.
Children and youth continue to face a number of protection risks in the West Nile region, including early marriage, domestic violence, and sexual and gender-based violence (GBV). They struggle to go to school, and for those who do graduate primary school, access to post-primary education and vocational training is very limited, particularly for refugees.
People we helped in Uganda in 2015
NRC in Uganda
Through our Uganda programme, we give long-term support to South Sudanese refugees.
We coordinate with our office in South Sudan and our operations throughout the Horn of Africa, so that we can prepare refugees should they decide to return.
NRC has offices in Adjumani, Arua and the West Nile region.
We’re equipping refugee children and youth with skills to build their futures. Our experts work to ensure that both boys and girls have equal opportunities to succeed.
Joyful, joyful, joyful, thanks to the sympathisers. We give thanks for the new shelters. The shelters for protection from rain, sunshine and strong wind.
Refugee pupils of Lalekan primary school in northern Uganda recite a poem welcoming new classrooms.
We want young refugees to receive quality education and have a safe space to learn. We work to improve attendance rates in school, especially among girls. We’re the only agency offering catch-up classes for refugee children behind in school.
Our education teams:
Offer catch-up classes and primary education for children and young adults.
Give vocational training to young adults on self-employment and running small businesses.
Conduct teacher training.
Help construct additional classrooms, libraries, offices and latrines for schools and vocational centres. We do this in coordination with our WASH and food security teams.
Help construct accommodation for teachers, together with our WASH teams.
Furnish classrooms with new desks, chairs and chalkboards.
The lack of post-primary school opportunities is a major challenge for young South Sudanese refugees.
To help them earn a living, our food security teams:
Distribute agricultural tools and seeds.
Offer vocational training for refugees and nationals on self-employment, agriculture, sewing, cooking, and basic literacy and numeracy.
Promote small businesses through cash transfers.
Help construct additional classrooms for vocational centres, including libraries and community halls. We do this in coordination with our education and WASH teams.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)
Our WASH teams are responsible for bringing clean water and sanitation to displaced and local communities. We work to construct new WASH-appropriate buildings.
Our WASH experts:
Provide clean drinking water and latrines to schools and vocational centres, in collaboration with our education teams.
Construct water boreholes for refugee villages, schools and airport runways.
Construct additional classrooms for schools and vocational centres, including libraries, latrines and community halls. We do this in coordination with our education and food security teams.
Construct accommodations for teachers, together with our education teams.
The Good Samaritan
At only nine years old, Banduga Ismail was forced to leave his home in Uganda. A long and dangerous road to safety made him realise what he would do with his life. Today, he remembers that terrified little boy when he looks at people displaced by conflict.
More refugees flee to Uganda than across Mediterranean
Uganda welcomed more refugees last year than the total number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean into Europe.