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Finding durable solutions for old refugee case-loads in Nakivale Settlement - Mbarara District, Uganda


Currently, the official estimate worldwide of people who have left their home in search of sanctuary elsewhere is 43.7 million. Of these, 21.5 million people are internally displaced (IDPs) and 40 percent of them live in Africa, in countries such as Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This is the highest number recorded since the start of the new millennium (see IDMC 2011). Given its central location in the Great Lakes Region and relative stability, Uganda has become a major destination for refugees fleeing from Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia and Sudan. This is despite the fact that Uganda has also produced refugees during different periods of its history due to internal strife. Most of these caseloads were settled across many settlements in the country including Nakivale, Oruchinga, Rwamwanja and Kahunge – depending on their backgrounds. While some of these refugees were repatriated to their countries of origin, others decided not to return and have therefore remained in Uganda for decades. Nakivale settlement in particular has refugees who have been in Uganda for decades. At the same time, there is evidence that a sizeable population of these refugees, especially the first generation caseloads, are in search of some kind of durable solutions. Some have argued that this category of refugees comprises old people that may possibly be preparing for their death back in their home countries. The fate of the second and third generation, however, remains uncertain; being born of refugees, they are constitutionally barred from applying for Ugandan citizenship, yet some of them are also historically detached from their parents’ countries of origin. What implications does this have for Uganda’s stability? Is there potential for undermining the Ugandan state? How has the state interracted with these refugees and viceversa? What have been the negative and positive consequences of hosting these refugees in Uganda and how can Uganda exploit any potentials that exist? What benefits accrue to having these refugees integrated and what are the pros and cons? These are some of the questions this research will address. This study is the first stage in a phased research to understand the durable solutions to old caseload refugees in Uganda. The focus will be on Nakivale Refugee Settlement which is the largest refugee settlement in the country and close to Mbarara where the University is situat-ed. The research will be both forward looking and backward looking, and will aim at de-scribing the refugees’ experiences in Uganda, their perception about the evolution of their socio-legal status, as well as an inquiry into their future aspirations and the benefits of integrating them. The study will use qualitative techniques, employing semi-structured information gathering tools, focusing on both agency officials and other key informants and ordinary refugees residing in the camp. In order to enhance the generalisability of the information gathered, identification of individuals to be included in the study will be done using quantitative sampling criteria.

Intervention type

South Initiatives


01/06/2014 - 31/05/2016

This project is being implemented in:
Local promoter Tom Ogwang
Flemish promoter Filip Reyntjens
Local partner institution Universiteit Antwerpen
visit www.uantwerpen.be
Local partner institution Mbarara University of Science and Technology
visit www.must.ac.ug
Budget € 74.993