By Andrew Irumba
A new report released by the World Bank has hailed Uganda as one of the most hospitable countries for refugees from across the globe.
The report released Tuesday at Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), titled; “Informing the Refugee Policy Response in Uganda” indicates that around 84% of all refugees are reported feeling secure or safe living in Uganda, with similar proportions when compared other regions.
The report which compiles results from the Uganda Refugee and Host Communities 2018 Household survey was a joint collaboration between the World Bank, Ugandan government and Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS).
Hillary Onek, Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, said during the launch of the report that “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.
Carolina Mejia Mantilla, a Senior Economist at the World Bank, who is one of the authors, contends that “85% of refugees living in Kampala feel secure and only 1% feel insecure. 83% and 86% of refugees living in West Nile and Southwest respectively feel safe and only 5% and 1% feel unsafe.”
She added that “Even among those who feel unsafe, the main reasons were economic and social in nature rather than a matter of insecurity.”
The report also notes that despite feeling secure and welcome, the refugee population in Uganda still lives in “precarious conditions” with about half of the population languishing 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.
The survey revealed that 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 highlighted that refugees in Uganda still face problems of asset ownership, access to education, unemployment with 72% of the refugees being unemployed, among other challenges.
However, despite facing the above challenges and more, the WB report commends the government of Uganda 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 South Sudan, Rwanda and most recently Democratic Republic of Congo.