Applying the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) Overview: Uganda (Last updated: October 2017)
For over five decades, Uganda has provided asylum to people fleeing war and persecution from many countries, including its neighbours. Uganda is party to key refugee conventions and international human rights treaties, and currently hosts over 1.35 million refugees, the majority from South Sudan (75%), the Democratic Republic of Congo (17%), Burundi (3%) and Somalia (3%)1. When renewed conflict broke out in South Sudan in July 2016, an unprecedented number of refugees came to Uganda, doubling the refugee population in less than seven months. Uganda has since become the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa, with refugees making up 3.5% of the country’s total population of 39 million. The economy faces challenges, compounded by adverse weather and spill-over from the civil unrest in South Sudan.
II. Towards a more comprehensive refugee response
Despite the challenges generated by the influx from South Sudan over the past year, Uganda maintains one of the most progressive policies to refugee protection. With an open-door policy, the Government upholds an inclusive approach, granting refugees freedom of movement, the right to seek employment, establish businesses and access public services such as education, on par with nationals. Refugees in Uganda do not live in camps. In line with Uganda’s settlement approach – which the Government pledged to continue at the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees on 20 September 2016 in New York - refugee families receive plots of land on which they can live and do farming. The Government has set aside many thousands of hectares of land for refugee use, and more have been provided by local communities. In order to ease pressure on local services and leverage the positive economic impact of refugees, Uganda has integrated refugees into national development plans. Likewise, it has established the Settlement Transformative Agenda (STA), which supports the development of refugee-hosting districts by investing in infrastructure, livelihoods, peaceful coexistence initiatives and environmental protection. The STA takes into account the protracted nature of displacement and their impact on local communities. Furthermore, it is in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its main principle to “leave no one behind”. Owing to this, Uganda is regarded as a model for many other refugee-hosting countries.