By Max Patrick Ocaido
Most refugees feel secure and welcomed in Uganda, a reflection of the country’s overall openness towards their presence, a new report has revealed.
According to the World Bank report titled; “Informing the Refugee Policy Response in Uganda” that was launched on Tuesday at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), around 84% of all refugees reported feeling secure or safe living in Uganda, with similar proportions when looking at the different regions.
The report that highlights results from the Uganda Refugee and Host Communities 2018 Household survey was a joint collaboration between the World Bank and government, particularly OPM and Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS).
According to one of the main authors of the report, Carolina Mejia Mantilla, Senior Economist at the World Bank, 85% of refugees living in Kampala feel secure and only 1% feel unsecure. 83% and 86% of refugees living in West Nile and Southwest respectively feel safe and only 5% and 1% feel unsafe.
“Even among those who feel unsafe, the main reasons were economic and social in nature rather than a matter of insecurity,” Mantilla said.
The report says that, despite feeling secure and welcome, the refugee population in Uganda still lives in “precarious conditions” with about half of the population living in poverty.
“Despite the humanitarian aid received, refugees in Uganda are very poor and require attention. Food security remains a concern for both refugee and host households in Uganda,” the report says.
About 7 out of 10 refugee households in Uganda experience severe food insecurity, while for hosts the proportion is only 5 out 10. The report also reveals that refugees in Uganda still face problems of asset ownership, access to education, unemployment with 72% of the refugees being unemployed.
Despite such challenges faced by refugees, the report commends government for providing easy access to basic services.
“There are some instances in which host households have lower access to basic services compared to refugee households. This is a reflection of both the progressive refugee hosting framework of Uganda, and also of the humanitarian response to the influx. For example, access to improved water is relatively high for refugees at 94% versus 66% for hosts. Similarly, 39% of refugee households have access to improved sanitation while this is the case for 26% of host households,” the report says.
Uganda is currently the third largest refugee-hosting nation in the world with 1.3m refugees, after Turkey and Pakistan. The country received the first bunch of 8000 refugees from Siberia, Northern Russia in 1940 during the World War II. They were settled in Bunyoro, Mukono and other places. In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Uganda received hundreds of refugees mainly from Sudan and Rwanda.
In his remarks, Hillary Onek, Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, commended UBOs and World Bank for their collective effort in compiling this report which will inform the country’s refugee policy. “There has been an enthusiastic support from developing partners. However, there are still many challenges and your cooperation is still largely needed because overcoming current challenges require unified and coordinated efforts from NGOs, private sector and government,” Onek said.