The Ugandan borders have remained closed for asylum since March 2020 due to COVID-19. However, spontaneuos movements to/from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continued via unofficial crossing points, owing to the dire humanitarian situation in these countries.
About 5,000 asylum-seekers are said to have crossed into Uganda from the DRC, COVID-19 UPDATE Cumulatively, as of 30 June 2021, there were 84,116 confirmed cases of COVID19, of whom, 1,805 were refugees and 554 humanitarian workers.
The cumulative number includes 41,971 recoveries, 948 of whom were refugees and 415 humanitarian workers.
Deaths reported were 1,966 since March 2020, 30 of whom were refugees and three humanitarian workers.
Contextual and Operational Highlights
World Refugee Day 2021: Uganda commemorated World Refuge Day 2021, amidst a second wave of COVID-19. Most activities were held virtually, in compliance with new COVID-19 restrictions. The focus this year was on awareness-raising initiatives. On 15 June 2021, UNHCR hosted a webinar “Uganda: a model of refugee inclusion — How are Japan, UNHCR and NGO partners supporting these efforts?” in collaboration with the Tokyo office, the Embassy of Japan, representatives from some Japan funded NGOs and a refugee women’s representative from Palorinya settlement. On 18 June, refugee response partners issued a joint statement applauding Uganda’s inclusive approach to refugees, whilst stressing the need for more resources to address gaps in meeting basic needs. On 19 June, High Commissioner Filippo Grandi held an online conversation with Victor Ochen, Founder and Executive Director of Uganda-based African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET). On 20 June, NBS hosted a live debate on refugee inclusion with the participation of Joel Boutroue, UNHCR Representative to Uganda, Julius Mucunguzi, Head of Communications with the Office of the Prime Minister, Noella Kabale, Refugee representative at the Refugee Engagement Forum, and Francis Iwa, Country Director of Care and Assistance for Forced Migrant (CAFOMI), and Co-chair of the Humanitarian Platform for National and Local Organizations.
UNHCR Representative to Uganda shared his insights on the importance of refugee inclusion and the need for more international solidarity to support refugees and their hosting communities in a Q&A published on 20 June. UNHCR Assistant Representative (Protection), Margaret Atieno joined a TV debate on women’s leadership in the refugee response on NTV on 21 June 2021.
COVID-19: Since March 2020, 1,805 refugees have tested positive for COVID-19, with 948 recoveries and 30 reported deaths. On 30 June 2021, the cumulative countrywide figure for COVID-19 positive casesstood at 84,116 cases, with 56,338 recoveries and 1,966 reported deaths. In total, 554 humanitarian workers have tested positive for COVID-19 across the country. The Ministry of Health has rolled out the vaccination program across the country for both citizens and refugees. By the end of June, 16,150 people had been vaccinated against COVID-19 in the refugee settlements. They included 2,749 health workers,3,357 teachers, 5,087 humanitarian workers and 4,957 refugees above 50 years, as well as those with underlying comorbidities.
New COVID-19 Restrictions - In a public address held on 18 June, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni announced the establishment of new COVID-19 lockdown measures, to stem a surge of infection in the country, to be revised after 42 days. These included a ban on public and private transport within and across districts, save for emergency services; closure of all education institutions; and a longer night curfew from 19.00 to 5.30 hours. Food markets and non-agricultural activities could continue operating as long as they were able to house their workers on site. Entebbe international airport remained open. UNHCR, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and the Ministry of Local Government, continued to hold weekly ad hoc Inter-Agency Coordination meetings with partners, to ease communication and coordination around the COVID-19 response in the refugee operation. UNHCR continued efforts to facilitate waivers for movement of partners for the delivery of critical services.
New High-Profile Supporter for Uganda: UNHCR Uganda has signed an agreement with Ugandan singer Maurice Kirya, who will be a High-Profile Supporter. Maurice is a Ugandan soul singer, instrumentalist, and businessman. He has worked with UNHCR in the Got Talent shows and supported refugees to record their music. He has also been involved in different charitable causes in Uganda.