With around 1.4 million refugees, Uganda is among the top refugee-hosting countries in the world. As with other humanitarian crises, refugee emergencies come with a real risk of diseases related to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). To minimize this risk, IOM intervenes by providing safe water, supporting construction of sanitation facilities, and promoting hygiene best practices such as use of latrines, hand washing and safe handling of food. IOM selects refugees with leadership skills to participate in conducting these sensitization activities.
In recent years, IOM has enjoyed the generous support of the United Nations Central Emergency Fund (CERF) and European Union Humanitarian Aid for water and sanitation projects. Among the latest initiatives include support for South Sudanese refugees in Palorinya settlement in Moyo district and in Zone 4 of Bidibidi settlement in Yumbe district of West Nile.
With CERF support, IOM has also been actively promoting safe water and sanitation in the west of the country, with operations in Kyaka II, Rwamwanja, Nakivale and Kyangwali refugee settlement. This has been largely for refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- European Union Humanitarian Aid
- UN Central Emergency Response Fund
Community Stabilization in Kampala City Slums
Youth unemployment is a daunting challenge across the world, with a worrying link to a rising incidence of radicalization and violent extremism. This reality inspired IOM Uganda’s Strengthening Social Cohesion & Sability in Slum Populations (SSCoS) project, being implemented in the capital Kampala.
The SSCoS project is financed by the European Union Trust Fund, to the tune of EUR 4.3 million for 42 months through February 2020.
The 42-month project started in August 2016 in Bwaise, but is also being implemented in Kisenyi, Katwe and Kabalagala. SSCoS’s overall objective is to tackle the root causes of inter-communal conflict in slum populations by addressing the sources of grievances – such as unemployment – and by strengthening community cohesion around shared development assets.
At the heart of IOM’s work among the slum populations is enhancement of employment opportunities as a vehicle towards social harmony. Selected youths and women undergo training on setting up and operating small businesses and cooperatives, before they are given in-kind and cash support to run their enterprises.
The project is being delivered together with the inaugural implementing partner, the Bwaise-based Action for Fundamental Change and Development (AFFCAD). Third-party implementing partners include ACTogether and YARID.
- European Union Trust Fund
As a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, Uganda has been hailed as a model country in terms of accepting and treating refugees humanely.
At a time when anti-foreigner sentiments are on the rise across the world, Uganda has the highest number of refugees (1.3 million at the end of July 2017) in Africa, which is also among the highest in the world. Most refugees in Uganda fled from South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Somalia, Burundi and Eritrea, among other countries.
But while many refugees feel at home here as they wait to return home, for others Uganda becomes a transit country, as they look to relocate mostly to the West.
IOM Uganda works with sister agency UNHCR, the Office of the Prime Minister, and the embassies of the refugee-accepting countries, plus a host of other partners on often action-packed and lengthy operations to move refugees to third countries.
Since resettlement was announced as one of the long-term solutions to the large caseload of Congolese refugees in Uganda in 2010, IOM has moved about 25,000 to the United States, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Ireland and other countries.
Most of the relocated refugees have come from settlements such as Nakivale in Isingiro district, Kyangwali in Hoima and Kyaka II in Kyegegwa – all in the western part of the country.
IOM also handles Cultural Orientation and Pre-Departure Logistics and Formalities.
Health Assessment and Travel Advisory
IOM Uganda’s Migration Health Assessment Center (MHAC) in Kampala is the leading provider of health assessment and travel assistance service for refugees and migrants traveling temporarily or permanently to the USA, Canada, Australia, the UK and New Zealand. Conducted by specialized and experienced personnel, MHAC assessments are based on the protocols defined by the admitting countries.
This IOM programme, which operates in 70 countries globally, addresses the health needs of migrants and refugees prior to departure, hence benefiting both the host and destination countries. Pre-departure health education and awareness-raising activities also enhance the health-seeking behavior of migrants and refugees.
Now located at Plot 47, Bukoto Crescent, in Naguru, MHAC receives technical support from Migration Health Divisions at the IOM Regional Office in Nairobi and headquarters in Geneva.
- Immigration medical examination for refugees and migrants bound for USA, Canada, Australia, etc
- Pre departure TB screening for UK visa applicants
- Pre departure treatment and fitness to travel check
- Immunization service
- DNA sample collection
- Directly Observed Treatment for Tuberculosis
- Examination for refugees referred by UNHCR.
Migration Health Promotion
IOM Uganda’s Health Promotion programme gives technical support to the Government of Uganda in addressing issues of health including HIV, malaria, SRHR, TB and mobility/migration.
IOM is a member of the Joint UN Programme of Support on AIDS in Uganda (JUPSA), whose third programming cycle is strategically focused on the remote Karamoja region to the north-east. Along with 10 other UN agencies, IOM is co-implementing the Karamoja United Nations HIV Programme (KARUNA-HP), for the period 2016-2020.
HIV was for a long time significantly lower in the Karamoja region. Following the disarmament and resultant peace after years of civil strife, rapid changes including population movements and expanding economic development opened up the local populations to inward and outward migration. This further modified protective socio cultural values and practices such as no sex outside marriage thus predisposing them to vulnerabilities including risk to HIV and sexual reproductive ill health. Hence Karamoja is facing a real threat of increased rise in HIV and SRH crises.
Immigration and Border Management
The pressures on Uganda’s borders are also a major contributing factor to other cross border issues such as trafficking in persons and smuggling of precious materials which fuel conflicts. Yet IOM strongly believes that ultimately, migration benefits society – especially if humane and orderly.
It means that with the increasing movement of people and goods across borders, governments such as Uganda’s must find the right balance between keeping the borders open and keeping them secure and controlled. Over the years, IOM Uganda has worked to build the government’s capacity in this regard by focusing on skills development and acquisition of sound infrastructure and modern equipment.
Presently, IOM is implementing a project to support the operationalization of the Uganda National Immigration Training Academy. Located in Nakasongola district in Central Uganda, the academy was funded by the Government of Japan and designed and constructed by IOM, before it was handed over to the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCIC) in March 2017.
With funding from the IOM Development Fund, this project will support DCIC to develop an institutional strategy for the use and management of the Academy. The strategy is expected to emphasize inter-agency and international cooperation, and enhance integration as a pillar of border management.
DCIC’s curriculum will be strengthened in order to ensure adoption of international best practices in training, including issues related to gender and mobility.
The project will also include a training of trainers by an international expert. This will strengthen DCIC’s capacity to offer top-notch training courses at the Academy.
In April 2017, IOM and the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control in the Ministry of Internal Affairs completed the Strengthening Border Security in Uganda (SBSU) project. In addition to building the academy, the project:
- Installed and expanded the Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS) in eight border crossing points, including a One-Stop Border Point (OSBP);
- Installed two document inspection labs (one at Immigration headquarters and one at Entebbe International Airport);
- Donated four vehicles for border patrols and one vehicle for Immigration’s IT Unit so that they can provide on-site support to MIDAS around the country.
Migrant Assistance and Protection
As part of its mission to promote humane and orderly migration, IOM runs programmes on combating trafficking in persons (TiP) and assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR).
In Uganda, IOM supports the Government to address trafficking in persons and assist vulnerable migrants, including victims of trafficking, exploited and stranded migrants, and unaccompanied migrant children. Through previous projects, IOM has supported the Government of Uganda to develop its National Action Plan for the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons in 2013, National TiP database and strengthen capacity of various actors on combating trafficking in persons. Since 2011, IOM has assisted in the return and reintegration of over 330 vulnerable migrants.
Cooperation between IOM Uganda, IOM missions in corresponding countries, respective Governments, and other stakeholders ensures that migrants are successfully assisted before departure, during travel and after arrival, including helping them to settle in and reintegrate.
Returning migrants have invested in such ventures as building schools, farming and beauty salons. Many migrants considering a return home find themselves unsure about the future. IOM’s support to returnees to reestablish themselves in society is meant to provide a cushioned landing. Fortunately, many migrants admit that although it is not easy getting used to home again, IOM’s support does make a difference.
Canada Visa Application Centre, Kampala
IOM Uganda provides Visa Support for governments and migrants worldwide. Within this scope of work, IOM operates not for profit visa application centres (VACs) on behalf of diplomatic missions. IOM-operated VACs handle administrative tasks of the visa application process and work to ensure that only properly completed visa applications are submitted, along with all required supporting documentation. This results in reduced costs and workloads for visa and immigration offices, faster visa processing times and improved service standards for visa applicants.
IOM Uganda’s Canadian Visa Application Centre (CVAC), located at Plot 41-59, Mackenzie Vale, in the Kololo area of Kampala, is open to any applicants in Uganda – both Ugandans and non-Ugandans – and allows them to submit their documents to staff.
Migration Governance, Policy and Research
Inter-agency coordination is one of the core pillars and a prerequisite for the whole-of-Government approach to Migration Governance. As part of the regional project, Building Regional and National Capacities for Improved Migration Governance in the IGAD region, IOM has provided technical support to the Government of Uganda to establish and strengthen the capacity of the National Coordination Mechanism on Migration (NCM). The NCM is a Government-led inter-agency coordination platform, whose main objective is to ensure continuous dialogue and cooperation among migration stakeholders; and to coordinate the implementation of the AU Migration Policy Framework, IGAD Regional Migration Policy Framework, East African Community (EAC) migration policies, National Migration Policy as well as other regional and international policies, at the national level.
IOM also provides technical advice to the Government on policy development and implementation based on international standards and best practices. In 2011, IOM supported the Government pf Uganda to develop its draft National Migration Policy. The policy is yet to be endorsed at cabinet level. IOM continues to provide advice to the Government on policy development and implementation.
In efforts to promote evidence-based policy development and implementation, IOM undertakes research – studies, assessments, analyses – in various migration areas to inform its work and the work of its partners. In 2013, IOM supported the development of the Uganda Rapid Migration Profile, and in 2017, IOM supported a consultant-led review of the profile.
Updated February 2018