For decades now, Uganda has been a convenientdestination for refugees and asylum seekers from neighboring conflict-afflictedareas such as Burundi, Rwanda, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea,Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Mozambique, SouthAfrica and Zimbabwe.
The country first experienced welcoming refugees’ in WorldWar II when 7,000 Polish refugees fleeing the violence in Europe were hosted inNyabyeya and Kojja in 1942. In 1955, Uganda became deeply immersed in the”refugee problem” after 78,000 Sudanese refugees entered during the Anyanyacivil war. This influx was soon followed by the arrival of numerous refugeesgenerated by unrest in the aftermath of the various struggles for independencein Kenya.
Since their independence in 1962, Uganda has been calculatedto have hosted an average of approximately 161,000 refugees per year. Uganda isnow home to 1.2 million refugees from 14 countries with at least 86% comprisingof women and children; these refugees are settled in various refugeesettlements in nine districts. It is therefore argued that Uganda’s forward-lookingapproach is being stretched to its limits. Uganda has currently taken the honorof being the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa, after surpassingEthiopia and Kenya in early 2017.
While political perspectives in South Sudan remainbleak, famine has been declared in some parts of the country, thus increasingthe chance of more refugees escaping into Uganda, adding pressure to an alreadyextreme humanitarian crisis. The form of wellbeing in other source countries;upcoming elections in Democratic Republic of Congo, instability in Burundi,Somalia and Eritrea also play a big part in further induced displacement intoUganda in 2017. Uganda has now become the largest host-country in Africa withover a million refugees and is predicted to keep on growing. Although Uganda has progressive and impressive policiestowards refugees, providing them with land to grow food, the right to work andfreedom of movement, there is increasing pressure on the government due to the largescale of the crisis.
These policies are therefore becoming harder to implement,as funding is still limited, and available land becomes scarce. The delegationof Uganda recognizes that in due time Uganda will, unfortunately, not be ableto produce enough funds for the safety and hosting of the countless refugees inthe country. To improvise in this time Uganda has transferred refugeeswith some income or ability to fend for themselves in cities and have removedthem from refugee camps. A commendable and understandable level of peacefulcoexistence is evident between refugees and host communities in all thesettlements.
Intermarriages are reported in many settlements, contributing toimproved relationships. Government had announced that they will be forced tohalve food rations or cash assistance in Uganda and put priority focus on thoserefugees most in need.”Around 200,000 refugees who arrived in Uganda priorto July 2015 will have their foodrations or cash assistance reduced by 50 per cent from this week,” according toa joint press release issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner forRefugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP) and Uganda’s Office of thePrime Minister. As the above statement shows, the UN is infull support of the Ugandan Government’s actions and are doing as much as thegovernment to reduce problems for the refugees. Theconclusions of the topic is that as the government ofUganda and UNHCR are doing their best to reduce poverty and expel risk forvulnerable refugees and their host communities, the close involvement of key contributorssuch as district leadership, sector ministries, host communities, and refugees,is a must. A shift in the philosophy of refugee assistance is also crucial:refugees should be viewed as economic actors in charge of their destiny ratherthan as beneficiaries of aid. To ensure impact, the focus should be ontransformative investments that will address the pressing needs of refugees andhost communities alike and that will jump-start local economies.
Further, acomprehensive approach is needed to enhance girls and women’s access toeducation and livelihoods and to reduce security and safety risks among them.Specific attention and backstopping is needed for urban refugees—especiallyyouth—to enable them to benefit from social and economic opportunities withoutbeing exploited or resorting to risky behaviors.