Uganda hosts the largest refugee population in Africa and the 3rd largest in the world, of which 57% are from South Sudan. The sheer number of refugees, many of whom arrived in 2017, has put Uganda’s progressive refugee policy under pressure.
The EU’s support is crucial to providing life-saving humanitarian assistance to refugees and host communities. Uganda is also vulnerable to natural hazards and epidemics. We are supporting Uganda’s efforts to better anticipate and respond to these events.
What are the needs?
Uganda hosts more than 1.52 million refugees, mostly from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Uganda’s open and progressive refugee policy is currently under pressure due to the constant arrival of many refugees since 2017.
Since 2022, the number of new registered refugees has increased by 146,000, especially from DRC (98,000 people).
The refugees’ situation has been further aggravated by the loss of income due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
The World Food Program has had to reduce rations in all settlements (from 40 to 60%). As a result, refugees are increasingly adopting negative coping mechanisms (early marriage, child labour, and transactional sex).
Basic social services, such as health care, are also under pressure since COVID-19 started. Schools reopened in January 2022, but after almost 2 years of closure, 4.5 million children countrywide are not expected to return to school. In November 2022, it was decided that schools would close 2 weeks earlier due to the Ebola crisis for the end-of-the-year holidays.
In 2022, more than 171,000 individuals were affected by floods, landslides, hailstorms and fires, and 20,000 were displaced. In the northeast Karamoja region, 41% of the population (518,000 people) faces acute food insecurity due primarily to poor rainfall.
Between September 2022 and January 2023, Uganda experienced an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus. Over 140 cases were reported, and over 50 deaths were confirmed. The outbreak was declared over on 11 January 2023.
How are we helping?
In 2023, the EU allocated €30 million in humanitarian aid to Uganda. Since 2017, the EU has supported humanitarian action in Uganda with more than €278 million.
EU humanitarian funds help address the needs of almost 1.5 million refugees and host communities. It also focuses on:
- providing rapid and effective emergency assistance to recently arrived refugees
- improving access to basic services in refugee settlements.
EU funding strongly contributes to addressing immediate basic needs. We help provide (i) protection and multi-purpose cash transfers, (ii) access to improved primary healthcare, (iii) safe water and sanitation, and (iv) education to refugees and their host communities.
In April 2022, following a new influx of refugees fleeing ongoing violence in Eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the EU also mobilised €100,000 to assist the most vulnerable. We also provided additional funding in August 2022.
Uganda has high numbers of refugees and host community out-of-school children. EU humanitarian aid strongly contributes to ensuring access of overaged children, including adolescent mothers, to quality education services, enrolling them into accelerated education and protection programmes. Depending on their needs, children and adolescents receive tailor-made assistance based on age, gender and abilities.
The EU has supported Uganda’s preparedness and response to COVID-19. Humanitarian partners have raised awareness of the virus and promoted health and hygiene measures to mitigate its transmission.
The EU also contributes to the reinforcement of local first responders’ capacities enabling the provision of a timely, effective, and local-driven anticipatory action and first emergency response in case of any disaster.
Following the torrential rains that caused devastating floods and landslides across the region last year, the EU mobilised €100,000 to respond to severe floods and landslide episodes reported in the West Nile and Eastern Uganda.
Beyond the provision of humanitarian aid, the EU helps to increase the resilience and autonomy of the most vulnerable people, reducing their dependency on aid in the long term. This is particularly relevant in the Ugandan context, where refugees can move freely, work, and start businesses.
For this reason, EU development aid in Uganda complements humanitarian aid in areas with a high refugee population. It addresses the longer-term needs of refugees and their host communities, such as vocational training for young people and the reinforcement of livelihoods.
The EU mobilised a total of €3.6 million in emergency humanitarian aid to help Uganda and its neighbours address the Ebola epidemic between September 2022 and January 2023.
The European Commission is also providing €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems.
Last updated: 28/03/2023
Facts & figures
Hosts the largest refugee population in Africa.
More than 1.5 million refugees, including more than:
- 865,000 from South Sudan
- 483,000 from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
- 67,000 from Somalia
- 40,000 from Burundi
- 29,000 from Eritrea
- 23,000 from Rwanda
(UNHCR, Feb. 2023)
EU humanitarian funding:
€30 million in 2023
More than €278 million since 2017