Uganda

As conflict in the Great Lakes region heightens, Uganda continues to accept more refugees. 


26 June 2019

With an open door policy and being trapped between three large active conflicts in the Great Lakes region, Uganda’s refugee population has increased to more than one million since 2016.  More specifically, Uganda currently hosts more than 345,000 refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), more than 825,000 South Sudanese refugees, and nearly 105,000 refugees from Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia.

Dunia Aslam Khan, the spokesperson for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Uganda, recalls: “There’s not a single day when we don’t receive refugees. Last week we received more than 1,000 from DRC alone.”. 

Since the start of June 2019, violence resulting from decades-long conflict between the militias associated with Lendu farmers and Hema herders in DRC has peaked . Especially high escalation can be seen in the Ituri province, where, apart from large-scale displacement, "armed groups are said to be attacking villages, torching and looting houses, and killing men, women and children," says UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic. 

In the Beni area within the Nord-Kivu province of DR, over 40 people were killed at a funeral for a journalist by the same rebels that killed him, recalls the journalist's sister-in-law Maska Wizine. Wizine left for Uganda with the family shortly after the attack.

In addition to being affected by the conflict, Beni is the second-worst troubled area with regard to the ongoing Ebola epidemic in the DRC. As Wizine’s family were getting onto the boat to Uganda, Wizine’s sister fell ill and died shortly after.

According to UNHCR’s Khan, the organization is working with the Ugandan government to create more screening facilities and all refugee reception centres in Uganda already screen for Ebola with infrared thermometers. Although refugees coming from DRC form a very small part of the Ugandan population, Khan warns against Ebola-related scapegoating while the country is overburdened with the refugee influx. 

UNHCR estimates that Uganda will need $927 million to be able to adequately respond to the influx of refugees. So far it has received merely $150 million which is less than 20 percent of what is required.

 

For more information, visit:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/06/uganda-strains-thousands-flee-violence-dr-congo-ituri-190626061523083.html

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/06/uganda-burgeoning-refugee-burden-190620053213020.html

 

Author: Giulia DeLuca, Editor: Aleksandra Krol