Uganda: 2017 Refugee Humanitarian Needs Overview - South Sudan, Burundi and DRC Refugee Response Plans

from Government of Uganda, UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 15 May 2017


REFUGEES IN NEED (by end 2017)

673.19 MILLION
215.33 MILLION


Since July 2016, the South Sudan refugee emergency situation in Uganda has dramatically peaked. The country has received a historic single largest refugee influx from South Sudan with a total of 674,033 new refugee arrivals in Uganda in 2016 until the end of March 2017. Most of these refugees have fled to Uganda over the past nine months. The South Sudan refugee population hosted by Uganda has more than tripled in comparison with the end-2015 population, reaching a total of 898,864 South Sudan refugees in the country as of April 2017, verification ongoing.
Despite a relative slowdown of the influx in December 2016, during the first three months of 2017 refugee arrivals have been higher than anticipated than during the initial planning. From January to March 2017, Uganda received 181,170 new arrivals. This represents more than half of the initial 2017 influx planning figure of 300,000 refugees. The RRP has therefore been revised with a new 2017 influx planning figure agreed upon with all partners of 400,000 refugees, representing a 100,000 (or 33 per cent) increase. As a result, a total of 1,025,000 South Sudanese refugees are expected by 31 December 2017.
In view of the continued mass influx and the existing vast settlements opened under emergency conditions, the main priorities of the South Sudan refugee response in Uganda are:

  1. Life-saving protection and multi-sector humanitarian response for newly arriving refugees, including the emergency opening of at least three to four additional refugee settlement areas;

  2. Stabilisation of the seven new settlement areas opened over the past nine months, in particular with regard to water and sanitation, as well as health and education facilities; establishment of child protection and SGBV prevention and response mechanisms 3. Livelihood support to reduce aid dependency and to fulfil the potential of Uganda’s good practice refugee policy;

  3. Environmental protection and mitigation measures in refugee hosting areas;
    Increased host community support in refugee hosting areas to reduce the burden on the host community, in particular by advocacy for the engagement of development actors through the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), and the Refugee and Host Population Empowerment (ReHoPE) approach, and the Government Settlement Transformative Agenda (STA).


Despite not directly bordering Burundi, Uganda continues to receive an influx of Burundi refugees. In 2016, this influx has been higher than initially anticipated, but declined since May 2016. On average some 30 Burundi refugees entered Uganda per day in September 2016, or 937 per month. In 2017, it is expected that Uganda will continue to receive a steady trickle of Burundi refugee arrivals of up to 20,000 new refugees, unless significant changes take place either in Burundi, or in countries of passage to Uganda such as Tanzania, Rwanda and the DRC.
Burundi refugees enter Uganda mainly through Rwanda and Tanzania, and in smaller numbers through DRC. The main border entry points in Uganda are Mirama Hills, Mutukula and Bunagana. Refugees are mainly settled in Nakivale settlement, but also in urban areas. Arrival numbers have peaked in March 2016.
The response operation is coping with the continued influx, but faces two main challenges. First, the new settlement areas in Nakivale settlement allocated to new arrivals from Burundi are very remote and under-developed. This is mainly due to the fact that Nakivale settlement, hosting some 124,842 refugees from multiple countries as of March 2017, is slowly reaching its maximum capacity.
The impact is that basic life-saving services are often far away from new settlement plots, requiring the operation to establish new service infrastructure, depending on available funding. Secondly, Nakivale is simultaneously receiving new refugee arrivals from different countries of origin, in particular from DRC. This puts increasing pressure on the reception facilities and basic services in the settlement.


The influx from the DRC to Uganda has been continuous since 2014, albeit in lower scale than the South Sudan influx. Refugees arrive mainly from North Kivu through various border points along the South-western border. In 2016 alone, Uganda received almost 40,000 new DRC refugees. Refugees cite militia activities, general insecurity and harassment as the main reasons for flight. As of April 2017, Uganda hosts 227,413 DRC refugees.
Unless dramatic events occur in Eastern DRC, it is anticipated that some 60,000 new DRC refugees will flee to Uganda in 2017. UNHCR maintains two transit centres and three reception centres to receive Congolese refugees, who are currently mainly settled in Rwamanja settlement. Kyaka II and Kiryandongo are contingency settlements for refugees from the DRC.
The main priorities of the DRC RRP are to provide life-saving protection and emergency assistance to newly arriving refugees, stabilise the situation in all settlements currently hosting DRC refugees (Rwamanja, Nakivale, Kyaka II, Kyangwali), provide support to DRC refugees (and other nationalities) in urban areas, and to maintain a high level of emergency preparedness in case the refugee influx rate.