Operation: Opération: Uganda



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Key Figures

2020 year-end results
6,812 refugees in settlements accessed antiretroviral therapy
3,999 incidents of sexual and gender-based violence were reported and responded to
1,396 out of a target of 2,350 individuals were submitted for resettlement (94%)
5.9 million tree seedlings were planted, out of a National Forestry Authority target of 5.14 million (100%)
100% of refugees and asylum-seekers (1,446,369) were able to access primary health care services
100% of targeted preventive reproductive health and HIV services were provided
79% of registered refugee children were enrolled in primary school (264,470 out of a target of 336,478)
0.15 was the under-five mortality rate registered, against the target of less than 1.5 per population
2021 planning figures
1.4 million refugees and asylum-seekers will receive protection and assistance
100% of people of concern will be provided with individual protection documentation
100% of identified children of concern with specific needs will be assisted
100% of primary-school-aged children will be enrolled in primary school
1.5 The under-5 mortality rate will remain below 1.5 per 1,000 children

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2020 3,797,682
2019 3,685,631
2018 1,370,923


[["Refugees",1421133],["Asylum-seekers",25236],["Others of concern",2351313]]
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2020 {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"budget":[302.144587466,551.108264853,415.20307154,386.19999993,357.07001032,344.828],"expenditure":[125.32271148000001,204.68911788,184.59756407999998,159.58054191,160.17458073999998,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[302.03654321600004,550.908264853,415.00307154,385.99999993,356.67001032,344.334721],"p2":[0.10804425,0.2,0.2,0.2,0.4,0.493279],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[125.31882094,204.67148963999998,184.54791916,159.51147375,160.10888656999998,null],"p2":[0.00389054,0.01762824,0.049644919999999995,0.06906816,0.06569417,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]}
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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Operational context

The Government of Uganda continued to implement its progressive policies aimed at hosting refugees and asylum-seekers in safety and dignity. Progress was made towards actualizing the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees and Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework under the National Action Plan.

In July 2020, refugees were included in the Uganda National Development Plan III and statistics at national and district level. At the sector level, Uganda is the only country in the world with four costed comprehensive refugee response plans in place, as called for by the Compact. These are integrated plans responding to the needs of refugee and their host communities in refugee-hosting districts, and include:
  • An education response plan.
  • A health sector integrated refugee response plan.
  • A water and environment sector response plan.
  • A jobs and livelihoods plan.
Further, in 2020 the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development led the development of the Sustainable Energy Response Plan in partnership with the Office of the Prime Minister, Rural Electrification Agency, World Bank, UNHCR and GIZ.

The COVID-19 pandemic, combined with a 30% reduction in food rations, worsened the well-being of refugees in Uganda. There were reports of increased negative coping mechanisms including child marriage and early pregnancy, survival sex, theft, gender-based violence and suicide. The number of attempted and completed suicides increased by 129% compared to 2019, with a total of 347 incidents in 2020.

Population trends

Uganda continued to generously host the largest refugee population in Africa, with 1,446,369 refugees and asylum-seekers by the end of 2020. South Sudanese make up the largest nationality (889,054 people), followed by those from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (421,563) and Burundi (49,728). Another 86,033 refugees from Somalia, Rwanda, Eritrea, Sudan, Ethiopia and 23 other countries have lived in protracted exile in Uganda for the past three decades.

94% of the population live in settlements, while the remainder are in urban areas. Females and males represent 52% and 48% of the population respectively, and children 59%.

The population increased 4% compared to 2019 (1,388,122 people), due to new births, continued registration of the backlog and exceptional admissions of new refugee arrivals amidst COVID-19-related border closures. In July 2020, the Government temporarily re-opened Uganda’s border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo to allow in some 3,000 asylum seekers in dire need of protection and life-saving assistance.

A total of 1,396 refugees were submitted for resettlement in 2020, with 1,069 departing to third countries.

A total of 231 refugees were facilitated to voluntarily repatriate to Burundi in safety and dignity, in collaboration with the Governments of Uganda and Burundi.

Key achievements

  • The Water and Environment Sector Response Plan was launched in March 2020 and UNHCR handed over management of water supply services in Rwamwanja refugee settlement to the National Water and Sewerage Corporation under a utility approach.
  • 2.5 million outpatient consultations were conducted at 101 health centres supported by UNHCR.
  • 3,008 village health team members were trained in community-based disease surveillance with emphasis on epidemic-prone diseases like COVID-19.
  • 3,980 asylum applications were adjudicated with an overall recognition rate of 90%.
  • 5.3 million seedlings were grown in nurseries, 3 million of which were transplanted; 32,209 households adopted fuel-efficient cookstoves; and 18 institutions were equipped with sustainable energy technologies.

Unmet needs

Public health indicators continued to be impacted by high patient-to-physician levels, poor accommodation for medical staff, stock-outs of essential medicines, high costs of referrals, high ratios population to village health teams, and continued use of temporary health infrastructure.
  • Access to remote learning for students was limited as the majority of households could not afford internet access, radios and scholastic materials.
  • There were insufficient case workers to address the needs of 50,000 children identified as unaccompanied, separated or at risk, and alternative care services were overstretched. 

Use of flexible funding (unearmarked or softly earmarked funding)

  • Registration of the backlog of new arrivals and new births was carried out with COVID-19 prevention measures including contactless biometrics, scheduling to ensure physical distancing, temperature screening and hygiene procedures.
  • UNHCR procured and deployed 20 new ambulances and 23 tricycle ambulances to replace the old fleet and respond to COVID-19 outbreaks.
  • The Refugee Status Determination registration system was finalized and deployed following the training of Government committee members to improve efficiency and accountability in processing.
  • The Global Distribution Tool was expanded beyond food distribution to track core relief items distributed by UNHCR and partners and ensure accountability of assistance delivered.

Working environment

Uganda is likely to continue receiving new refugee arrivals in 2020 due to political instability and violence in neighbouring countries, particularly in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and South Sudan.
The open-door policy towards new refugee arrivals in Uganda, coupled with the implementation of progressive refugee policies, is also likely to continue. This will allow refugees freedom of movement, the right to work and establish a business, and access to social services, such as healthcare and education. The Government of Uganda is anticipated to continue allocating a plot of land to new refugee arrivals who decide to live in settlements. Host communities are likely to continue sharing resources and services with refugees in refugee-hosting areas, such as water, schools, health facilities and agricultural land.
In line with the objectives of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) in Uganda, efforts will continue to support Government policy and protect the asylum space.  The resilience and self-reliance of refugees and host communities will be a priority, as will expanding solutions, including third country options; supporting Uganda’s role in the region; and investing in human capital and transferable skills. As foreseen in the Global Compact on Refugees, UNHCR will continue mobilizing and coordinating support for the refugee response, with a focus on development partners and the private sector.
The CRRF Secretariat will continue to support the CRRF Steering Group, which is the main multi-stakeholder policy forum and decision-making body for the CRRF in Uganda.
In line with the Refugee Coordination Model, UNHCR co-leads and coordinates the refugee response in Uganda with the Office of the Prime Minister and broad participation from UN and NGO partners. The national Inter-Agency Coordination Group will continue to provide a platform for discussion and decision-making to more than 100 UN and NGO partners.

Key priorities

UNHCR’s focus will be on maintaining Uganda’s asylum space, preserving equal and unhindered access to territory, and strengthening the government’s emergency preparedness and response capacity.  Child protection and support for SGBV survivors will also remain key.
UNHCR will continue to work closely with the Government of Uganda and provide equipment, materials and technical support as it seeks to include refugees in basic social services. These services include health, education, child protection, water and sanitation, which are provided by national authorities in refugee-hosting districts. Refugees are expected to be included in “National development plan III 2020/21 to 2024/205” across all sectors, with education, health, environment, and economic inclusion the priorities. The United Nations Development Framework 2021-2025, in support of NDP III, will also include refugees across sectors.
UNHCR plans to prioritize interventions that may improve access to, and the quality of, education as well as environmental protection––funding programmes that support these efforts and engaging others, including development partners and the private sector.
Latest contributions
  • 15-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 14-OCT-2021
  • Qatar

    private donors

  • 12-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Ireland
  • Italy

    private donors

  • 09-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • 08-OCT-2021
  • Japan

    private donors

  • 06-OCT-2021
    United States of America

    private donors

  • 05-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 04-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • 01-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 30-SEP-2021

    private donors

  • Switzerland

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  • Brazil

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  • Philippines

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