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Uganda, Africa | Population Movement - Emergency Appeal n° MDRUG045

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Families fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are arriving in Uganda traumatised and without possessions, in the hope of reaching safety. However, they find themselves in another humanitarian crisis as there is insufficient shelter to house them, and overcrowded centres lack water and sanitation, forcing people to camp out in the open putting their safety and health at risk.

The conflict in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces in the eastern part of the DRC has intensified since late March 2022, triggering the large-scale displacement of refugees into Uganda. Up to 26 May, Uganda had received over 41,018 new arrivals fleeing the violence from DRC.

From 10 June, the IFRC has seen a further increase in people crossing the border due to an escalation in violence in the DRC. Families have been forced to flee with limited or no possessions and can be seen camping on the streets, in schools, markets, and on the open grounds of border towns Bundibugyo and Bunagana. Due to the sudden increase in people crossing, not all have been registered and, hence, the numbers are not at this stage confirmed but it is estimated they could have increased to over 100,000 people, putting a significant strain on host communities.

This rapid and large-scale influx of refugees has put tremendous pressure on the basic social services in the settlements where refugees are hosted, impacting education, food, shelter, health and nutrition centres, and WASH infrastructure.

The refugees are received at several collection points, transit, and reception centres across the country. They are registered and provided with basic protection services and humanitarian assistance pending their relocation to refugee settlements. Besides those registered at the camps, there is a large number of additional refugees still living with host communities in Bundibugyo and Bunagana.

The influx of refugees has created a large gap in terms of shelter. The transit centres are designed to host refugees for a maximum of five days, but the situation has forced longer stays. Refugees have arrived with few belongings and there is an urgent need for emergency shelters and essential household items.

The transit centres and camps are already congested and lack sufficient health, water, and sanitation facilities raising the risk of disease outbreaks if no immediate actions are taken with regard to health, hygiene, and sanitation. Their basic shelter and WASH infrastructure need to be upgraded to comply with the minimum humanitarian standards at the receiving locations. Refugees face numerous protection issues; including cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), separated families and unaccompanied minors and many more all arising due to the magnitude of the displacement and growing vulnerabilities, and strained basic social services in refugee-hosting communities. The level of trauma is high among the current refugee population and additional psychosocial assistance is needed. Some families have been displaced three or four times, thereby, leading to a continuous cycle of displacement in settlements.

The government, UNHCR, and the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) have been mainly engaged in providing shelter, WASH, and protection assistance. The IFRC launched a DREF of CHF 409,293 on 13 April to provide the URCS with the resources to support the refugees. To complement this support, Belgium Red Cross–Flanders and the Austrian Red Cross provided additional WASH support as part of the Humanitarian Protection (HP1) project. Shelter support was also provided through the ECHO Humanitarian Implementation Plan (HIP) as a consortium led by Netherlands Red Cross. The ICRC is providing additional support for the URCS-led Restoring Family Links (RFL) response. With the large-scale escalation of refugee numbers, the initial scaled-up Movement response has quickly become insufficient given the severe humanitarian situation. Additional resources are needed to address the humanitarian needs and dignity of refugees.

Based on assessments and their ongoing response, the URCS is requesting an urgent scale-up in support of rapidly responding to the worsening situation for refugees.


This Emergency Appeal aims to scale up activities that are being carried out by the URCS to respond to the increased caseload of refugees and their urgent humanitarian needs.

Based on current figures, there are about 37,052 refugees registered by UNHCR (Kisoro holding/transit centre, Bundibugyo, Kasese, and Nakivale settlements). It is estimated by the URCS and reported by district government offices that there could be up to 62,948 refugees still not registered who are living within the host communities in and around Bundibugyo and Bunagana who, at this time, are not receiving basic humanitarian assistance.

From this analysis, the operation will target up to an estimated 50,000 people with direct support to refugees and, in addition, up to 100,000 refugees and host communities through outreach programmes. The target locations will be those currently hosted in three transit camps in Kasese, Kisoro, and Bundibugyo and those staying with host communities. As the situation evolves, the URCS will continue to support the targeted refugees as they move from transit camps to the Nakivale settlement camp or others.

Community engagement and accountability, as well as protection, gender, and inclusion standards, will help further refine the targeting methodology, with attention to the particularly vulnerable and/or the most at-risk groups, including women, children, the elderly, and people living with disabilities.

The withdrawal of support by some responding organisations at the transit centres leaves the URCS with a higher caseload, particularly since they are leading on WASH intervention in the camps.