As the universe celebrates the World Refugees Day, Uganda has widely been recognized as having progressive and forward-thinking refugee and asylum policies.
According to UNHCR statistics Uganda has become home to almost 511,000 refugees and asylum-seekers.
Uganda is the 3rd-largest refugee-hosting country in Africa, after Ethiopia (736,000) & Kenya (594,000), with the number of refugees projected to soar to 600,000 at the end of this year.
About 4,000 South Sudan refugees have crossed into Adjumani District in March following continued hunger in Africa’s newest nation. Upon receiving refugee status, refugees are provided with small areas of land in villages integrated within the local host community; a pioneering approach that enhances social cohesion and allows both refugees and host communities to live together peacefully.
Statistics from the Prime Minister’s Office indicate that more than 130,000 South Sudanese are currently living in 16 refugee camps in Adjumani.
Refugees have access to the same services as Ugandan nationals, have the right to work and to establish their own businesses. They enjoy freedom of movement and are given land for agricultural use, reducing dependency on humanitarian aid.
More than 17,000 Burundians refugees arrived in Uganda last year, among them Larson, aged 29. He recently set up a pharmacy at the Nakivale refugee settlement and is currently trying to rebuild a life for his wife and two children.
“People always used to say that Uganda takes good care of its refugees,” said Larson. “It’s true. I like it here. It is peaceful. Maybe with time I could one day go back to Burundi but for now I’m focused on rebuilding things here.”