1,424,373 Refugees and asylum seekers as of April 2020
45 Refugees tested positive to date
2 Refugees recovered to date
408 Refugees and asylum seekers in quarantine
Since Uganda confirmed its first COVID-19 case on 21 March 2020, the number of positive cases increased to 657 as of 8 June 2020, according to the Ministry of Health (MoH). Among them are 43 refugees currently under treatment, including 37 South Sudanese who were in quarantine in Adjumani’s Nyumanzi reception centre, 5 South Sudanese who were in quarantine in Yumbe’s Lokopio Technical Institute and 1 Eritrean who tested positive at Amuru’s Elegu collection point. These refugees are currently in isolation in different hospitals across the country, including Kampala’s Mulago National Specialized Hospital (30), Arua Regional Referral Hospital (11), Hoima Regional Referral Hospital (1) and Entebbe Grade B Hospital (1). A total of 118 people has recovered from COVID-19 to date, including two refugees. No deaths have been registered so far. Following a new presidential directive dated 19 May 2020, Uganda’s total confirmed case count does no longer include the number of foreign truck drivers who tested positive for COVID-19 and were handed over to their country of origin – which stood at 653 as of 8 June 2020.
In his 15th address to the nation on 1 June, President Yoweri Museveni underlined that cargo trucks will continue to be allowed into Uganda from neighbouring countries as they are essential to the success of local economy. Public transport (buses, mini-buses and taxis) resumed at half capacity on 4 June, with the exception of 40 border districts, where it remains suspended until further notice. The reopening of schools to allow students to sit their due examinations has been postponed until 1 July. The borders and the airport remain closed, with curfew still in place from 19hr00 to 6hr30. Wearing a mask in public is mandatory. Movement restrictions continue in all border districts.
The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) released the refugee population statistics for May 2020, putting the number of asylum seekers (28,190) and refugees (1,396,183) in Uganda to 1,424,373. South Sudanese make up the largest number, with 880,673 individuals, followed by refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (415,098) and Burundi (48,303). More than 60 per cent of the population is under the age of 18, with over 41,000 unaccompanied and separated children. Compared to April 2020, the population increased by 633 individuals, mostly due to registration of new births.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) remains concerned for the protection of several thousands of Congolese reportedly stranded in no-man land between Uganda and DRC, west of Zombo district following deadly attacks on civilians by the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo (CODECO) militia in DRC’s Ituri province in late May. According to different sources, thousands of civilians crossed to Uganda and are being sheltered by the local communities in Zombo. UNHCR is looking into organizing an assessment mission to Zombo.
UNHCR and OPM laid the groundwork to begin registration of nearly 20,000 asylum seekers currently in the country, including by adapting standard operating procedures for biometric registration to COVID-19 safety measures and protocols. Whilst looking into additional requirements for registration personnel, especially personal protective equipment (PPE), UNHCR and OPM’s plan is to start before the end of June.
Under the guidance of the Child Protection Sub Working Group, co-chaired by UNHCR and UNICEF, several partners undertook assessments and analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on refugee children in Uganda. In addition to child separation and child neglect, partners identified a significant number of teenage pregnancies and child marriages in most settlements. The socio-economic impact of COVID-19 has contributed to parents and children’s distress, with resultant negative consequences on childcare and protection. The suspension of activities fostering children’s play, learning and development, including the closure of Child Friendly Spaces (CFS), continued to impact children’s wellbeing and remains a major obstacle to preventing and responding to child protection risks. UNHCR and partners are looking into solutions.
During the reporting period, UNHCR and partners identified and provided life-saving support to 23 SGBV survivors in Rhino Camp, Imvepi, Palabek, Adjumani and Kyaka II settlements, including psychosocial and legal counselling and access to medical care. Awareness-raising activities on SGBV prevention continued across the refugee response.
In May, the Feedback, Referral and Resolution Mechanism (FRRM) helpline received 4,686 calls and resolved 3,934 queries (84 per cent) over the phone through standard Frequently Asked Questions. Another 752 queries were referred to UNHCR and partners for a follow-up. Compared to April, the calls increased by nearly 100 per cent across the response, with 3,589 calls (76 per cent) originating from Kampala.
As part of UNHCR/WFP/OPM joint cash assistance programme to assist 42,694 refugee households in Kampala, UNHCR began on 30 May disbursement of mobile money to 2,489 households (7,041 individuals) to help them cover the cost of non-food items and rent for one month, corresponding to over UGX 553 million. Another 1,500 refugee households will receive mobile money in the week of 8 June. UNHCR continued to validate the identity of refugee households with an active SIM card (15,800) against the biometric refugee database (proGres v.4), with 90 per cent completed to date. Negotiations continued with Airtel to discuss timelines and modalities of distribution of SIM cards to 26,894 refugee households without a cell number.