Agnes sits with her five children in a refugee settlement in Uganda, after fleeing conflict in South Sudan. Photo: NRC/Sofi Lundin

Appeal for urgent response to Uganda refugee crisis

Published 23. Aug 2016
Overwhelmed aid agencies in Uganda are armed with insufficient resources to respond to South Sudanese refugees spilling across the border, after renewed violence pushed over 85,000 people into Uganda’s West Nile region since July.

“We are ringing the alarm bell now. Cholera is just one result of us not having resources to decongest reception centres at a quick enough pace,” warned Hosana Adisu, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Country Representative in Uganda. “Other diseases like diarrhoea, malaria and respiratory track infections are likely to break out if we cannot step up the support we are giving to new arrivals.”

Several refugee transit centres have massively surpassed their holding capacity. For example, the Nyumanzi reception centre in Adjumani was set up to accommodate 3,500 people, but now hosts over 8,000 individuals.

The Government of Uganda and UNHCR are establishing eight new refugee settlements. However, the relocation of refugees to these sites is not matching the pace of new arrivals. About 1,700 South Sudanese are arriving into Uganda each day.

“We fear the recent cholera outbreak in Adjumani may spread to other areas including Yumbe, unless urgent measures are taken to contain the outbreak,” continued Adisu. “Fifty-five people have been treated for suspected cholera so far.”

The new arrivals need urgent assistance including shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene support. Reports of sexual violence against people fleeing South Sudan continue, with a large number of children and youth reportedly suffering from psychosocial trauma as a result of sexual abuse and violence.

While aid agencies are working around the clock to respond to cholera and other rising needs, they cannot respond adequately to the unfolding humanitarian crisis without increased funding. The South Sudanese Refugee Response Plan is only 36 per cent funded, of the US$212 million required to meet needs.

Key figures:

  • Over 85,000 South Sudanese have fled to Uganda since July 2016, according to UNHCR.
  • Over 85 per cent of the new arrivals are women and children.
  • As of the end of July, Uganda hosted over 550,000 refugees. This included 315,000 refugees and asylum seekers from South Sudan, and over 200,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • South Sudan ranks among the countries with the highest levels of conflict-induced population displacement globally. Over 1.6 million people are displaced inside the country, and more than 900,000 have fled to neighbouring countries since December 2013.
  • 6 million people - more than half South Sudan's population - need humanitarian assistance.
  • Over 4.8 million people in South Sudan will face severe food shortages over the coming months, and the risk of a hunger catastrophe continues to threaten parts of the country.

Press contacts:
Hosana Adisu, Area Manager/Country Representative, NRC Uganda, +256 786 650179,

Michelle Delaney, NRC Media Adviser, +47 941 65 579,