As of end of October 2020, Uganda hosted some 1,434,708 million refugees and other persons of concern in the country, including those originating from South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Somalia, Rwanda and others. 94 percent of the population of concern live in the settlements, while 6 percent reside in urban areas in Kampala. 82 percent of the population comprise women and children, while 3 percent are elderly persons and 22 percent are youth. Uganda's progressive refugee policy grants refugee’s freedom of movement, the right to seek employment and establish businesses, and to access public services such as education, health care and justice.
Despite a favorable protection environment, the number and vulnerability of refugee’s, scarcity of resources and stress on social-economic amenities continue to hamper the quality of protection. Social Service delivery in the hosting Districts is overstretched requiring support for enhancement to meet the needs of all, both the refugees and their hosts. In order to protect and enhance the asylum space and promote peaceful co-existence, the refugee response must address the perspectives and expectations of the communities hosting refugees.
The SGBV Unit in Kampala provides coordination, technical guidance and field support on including on prevention, response and mitigation and engages refugees in community mobilization and empowerment, ensuring an age gender and diversity (AGD) approach, protection and empowerment of persons with specific needs (PSN), accountability to affected people (AAP) and psychosocial support.
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and Violence against Children continue to be major protection concerns in the refugee program, coming against a backdrop of the Uganda refugee population being made up of over 85% women and children. For the last three years, an average of over 5,000 new SGBV incidents have been identified, managed and documented in the refugee settings. While these numbers are concerningly high, they are not fully representative of the extent of the situation as under-reporting or delayed reporting of SGBV incidents remain a major concern, the ongoing engagement with refugees aimed at attitude/social norm change and general awareness has borne significant dividends over time and needs to be sustained. Timely response to the reported incidents continues to inspire confidence for more refugees to report cases, with the assurance that they will get support, and this similarly needs to be a sustained effort. This situation is at present being exacerbated by the significant increase in SGBV cases attributed to the COVID 19 containment measures and restrictions which led to the UNHCR Uganda Operation successfully joining in the appeal for Central Emergency Response Fund -Underfunded Emergencies (CERF-UFE) funding under the project titled "Urgent Response to the Impact of COVID-19 on the protection of refugees, particularly women and children in Uganda Emergencies (UFE)". This project will be implemented in five refugee settlements in West Nile region of Uganda and Kyangwali Refugee settlement.