For decades now, Uganda has been a favorable destination for refugees and asylum seekers from neighboring conflict-afflicted areas such as Burundi, Rwanda, Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The country’s first experience of welcoming refugees dates back to World War II when 7,000 Polish refugees fleeing the violence in Europe were hosted in Nyabyeya and Kojja in 1942 and were later resettled in Britain, Australia, and Canada.
Since achieving her independence in 1962, Uganda has been hosting an average of approximately 161,000 refugees per year. In the recent past, the UNHCR has reported that about 37,491 refugees were welcomed into Uganda just three weeks after South Sudan plunged into civil unrest on 8 July 2016.
Uganda is now home to 1.2 million refugees from 13 countries with at least 86% comprising of women and children; these refugees are settled in various refugee settlements in eleven districts, the number surged, doubling from when a World Bank study on forced displacement and mixed migration in the Horn of Africa estimated the number at 500,000. Uganda is currently the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa, after surpassing Ethiopia and Kenya in early 2017.
HIJRA has been responding to the refugee situation in Uganda’s South Western region since 2012 and recently extended operations to the mid-west in response to the 2018 influx from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Initial interventions were in the WASH sector at Matanda Transit Center in 2012; and in 2013, HIJRA expanded to managing Nyakabande and Bubukwanga Transit Center. In the same year, HIJRA started operation as the lead protection partner in Oruchinga Refugee Settlement. In 2014, HIJRA supported the Spontaneous Return of Congolese refugees by the provision of WASH services and hot meals in Kinyaara, Muhokya and Ishasha way stations.
HIJRA has implemented Protection as a partner for UNHCR in Nyakabande Transit Center, as well as Oruchinga, Nakivale and Kyangwali Refugee Settlements. HIJRA’s scope as a protection actor widened over the years to include Nyakabande Transit Center, Oruchinga and later, Nakivale and Kyangwali Refugee Settlements.In Kyangwali, HIJRA also undertook road construction works as the settlement grappled with an influx of refugees form the DRC.
Working to support the state to ensure that vulnerable populations access fundamental human rights. It encompasses child protection, Sexual and Gender Based Violence, legal and community based protection projects.
Working to increase access to water, sanitation and hygiene services, while building the capacity to manage WASH interventions at community level.
Working to improve access to services mainly through road construction and ensuring access to shelter for vulnerable persons.
Working to ensure that each person has the tools and choice to live in a secure and dignified manner.