Uganda + 10 more

Uganda: UNHCR COVID-19 Response Bi-Monthly Update, 21 July 2020

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Situation Report
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1,425,040 refugees and asylum seekers as of June 2020

52 refugees tested positive to date

52 refugees recovered to date

2,919 refugees and asylum seekers in quarantine

Operational context

  • Since Uganda confirmed its first COVID-19 case on 21 March 2020, the number of positive cases increased to 1,124 as of 20 July 2020, including 1,072 Ugandans and 52 refugees. Across Uganda, 1,010 people have recovered from COVID-19 to date, including 52 refugees. No deaths have been registered so far. A total of 250,029 samples were tested by the Uganda Virus Research Institute as of 20 July 2020

  • In his 19th address to the nation on 21 July, President Yoweri Museveni announced further relaxation of lockdown measures, reducing the curfew time from 9.00 pm to 5.30 am, opening some arcades and saloons and allowing boda boda riders to carry passengers as from 27 July. The airport and land borders will remain closed until further notice. A decision about the reopening of schools will be made in September.

Highlights

Protection

  • In a meeting with the King of Alur, Philip Olarker Rauni II, Minister for Northern Uganda, Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny and Commissioner for Refugees, Gerald Menhya on 19 July, UNHCR agreed to consider providing support to establish a “refugee village” in Zombo district to accommodate the asylum seekers who have recently fled violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). An emergency operation has been underway at Zombo since early July to assist and quarantine over 3,000 asylum seekers, following the temporary reopening of the Uganda-DRC borders between 1-3 July. A joint assessment involving UNHCR, Office of the Prime Minister, Zombo district authorities, Alur Kingdom officials and humanitarian partners is scheduled on 22 July to look at the land, infrastructure and proximity of services to the site proposed for the village. Given the diverse background of the newly arrived asylum seekers, an intention survey will be carried out this week to understand how many asylum seekers would opt for staying in Zombo and how many would prefer to relocate to an existing settlement.

  • The Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) sub working group, co-chaired by UNHCR and UNFPA, concluded an analysis of SGVB incidents in the refugee response in the first six months of 2020, with a focus on the impact of COVID-19 on prevention and response to SGBV. Since January 2020, a total of 1,860 SGBV incidents have been recorded in refugee settlements and Kampala, with 1,725 female survivors and 135 male survivors. Of the total, 729 incidents were reported between January-March and another 1,131 between April-June, representing an increase of 55 percent in the three months that followed the enforcement of COVID-19 lockdown measures in Uganda (April-June). Twelve out of 14 sites hosting refugees (13 settlements and urban Kampala) showed an increase in the number of SGBV incidents, with Kyangwali and Bidibidi reporting the highest rates. The top three reported incidents were physical assaults (566), rape (486) and psychological abuse (396) by the end of June. The main factors contributing to increased SGBV incidence during the COVID-19 crisis were economic hardship and inability to earn money; increased alcoholism and reduced food rations, triggering domestic violence; failure by the heads of households to provide for their family, leading to intimate partner violence; and limited access to financial support. UNHCR and partners provided psychosocial support, medical care and legal assistance to all identified SGBV survivors

  • The Refugee Eligibility Committee (REC), an inter-ministerial body established under the 2006 Refugee Act, resumed its sessions on 6 July for the first time since the COVID-19 lockdown, adjudicating 3,242 asylum cases in Kampala. Among them were asylum seekers from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Pakistan. A total of 3,197 cases were granted refugee status, representing 98 per cent of the cases reviewed to date. In its capacity as an observer, UNHCR attended the sessions and provided technical guidance on complex Refugee Status Determination (RSD) issues. Another six REC sessions are planned until the end of 2020 to adjudicate applications from asylum seekers living in Kampala and other parts of the country.

  • As part of UNHCR/WFP/OPM joint cash assistance programme to assist 42,694 refugee households in Kampala, a pilot distribution of SIM cards took place during the reporting period, targeting 355 refugee households without a valid cell number to receive mobile money. Awareness-raising is ongoing to inform refugees about the upcoming large-scale distribution of SIM cards in Kampala, targeting about 35,000 households.