June 1, 2020

How to Protect Refugees in a Pandemic

Trustworthy and indepth news stories are more important now than ever.
Support our newsroom by MAKING A CONTRIBUTION HERE

Despite Uganda’s large population of displaced people from neighboring wars, no confirmed cases of COVID-19 have occurred within refugee settlements. This attests to the country’s humane, sustainable, and forward-looking refugee policy, which gives displaced people the resources and support they need to make a home and a living.

An Ugandan health officer takes samples for testing the COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus) from a truck driver at the Malaba Border Post in Malaba, bordering with Kenya, Uganda, on April 29, 2020. – All truck drivers ferrying goods crossing the border from Kenya must take a test for the COVID-19 by Ugandan health officials and wait 24 hours to get the result. After entering Uganda, the driver must stay inside the truck, only allowed to get off to unload at the destination. (Photo by Brian ONGORO / AFP) (Photo by BRIAN ONGORO/AFP via Getty Images)

KAMPALA – Perhaps the most effective health interventions in the battle against COVID-19 so far have been behavioral: social distancing and improved hygiene, especially hand-washing. For the world’s 70 million displaced people – especially the millions living in cramped camps and informal settlements – such habits can be virtually impossible. Add to that limited access to health-care services, a lack of reliable information about the virus, and governments’ focus on protecting their own citizens, and the risks of devastating COVID-19 outbreaks among displaced populations are rising fast.

Refugees International recently sounded the alarm about these risks, and offered sensible recommendations to help mitigate them, such as reducing overcrowding and improving hygiene in refugee camps, halting the deportation of asylum-seekers, and improving communication. To achieve these objectives, governments would do well to draw lessons from Uganda, a global leader in refugee protection.

Uganda, a landlocked country of 43 million people, has taken in 1.36 million refugees, making it the world’s third-largest host country. Most fled from conflicts in neighboring countries, especially in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Asylum-seekers from both countries – totaling 985,512 from the former, and 271,967 from the latter so far – are granted refugee status in Uganda on a prima facie basis.

Asylum-seekers from other countries, including Burundi (36,677 refugees), undergo status-determination interviews. Nearly 71,000 refugees – from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, Somalia, and Sudan – have lived in exile in Uganda for three decades.

Despite its large refugee population, none of Uganda’s 139 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (as of May 14, 2020) occurred within refugee settlements. This is a testament to the country’s humane, sustainable, and forward-looking refugee policy, which gives displaced people the resources and support they need to make a home and a living.

Uganda’s success begins with favorable legal and policy frameworks. Its 2006 Refugee Act and the 2010 Refugees Regulations guarantee essential rights to refugees, including the rights to move freely, work and start a business, own property, and access public services like education and health care.

The Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, launched in 2017, provides a blueprint for upholding those rights globally. From emergency response to ongoing needs and self-reliance, the CRRF covers every step of a refugee’s experience from the time of displacement until a durable solution (local integration, resettlement, or voluntary repatriation) is found. It thus aligns its approach with the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2016.

A key component in implementing the CRRF is the Refugee and Host Population Empowerment (ReHoPE) Strategic Framework, which focuses on promoting resilience and self-reliance among refugees and host communities through livelihood initiatives, durable institutions, and investment in skills development. To avoid redundancy and ensure adequate funding, ReHoPE emphasizes coordination among strategic actors, including the UN, the World Bank, and several cross-sectoral partners.

In Uganda, refugees have been integrated into the country’s development agenda at all levels. Uganda’s National Development Plan II, launched in 2015, includes the Settlement Transformation Agenda, which promotes socioeconomic development in areas hosting refugees and provides the basis of a non-encampment policy for refugees. Whereas refugees in Bangladesh, Greece, and Syria typically live in overcrowded camps, which rank among the world’s most densely populated areas, refugees in Uganda receive a plot of land for housing and cultivation near local communities. About 92% of Uganda’s refugees live in settlements alongside native Ugandans, while the remaining 8% live in urban centers.

At the 2016 Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, Uganda committed to upholding its settlement approach, and expanding refugees’ access to education, employment, and social services. It has since made significant progress toward fulfilling its promises.

Because most refugees are concentrated in 12 of Uganda’s 121 districts, total service capacity has been increased in some areas. In 2018, the Ministry of Education launched an Education Response Plan – a three-year initiative to ensure sufficient school capacity. Integrated response plans for health, water, and the environment soon followed.

Thanks to this long-term planning, refugees and local communities alike already had access to health facilities and clean water when the COVID-19 pandemic began. As a result, even those who live in more densely populated – and thus higher-risk – settings had the tools they needed to follow hygiene recommendations from the start.

Border controls during the pandemic mean that Uganda’s open-door policy for asylum-seekers has been suspended. Having spent over a decade as a border guard – including on the Kenyan frontier when violence erupted over that country’s 2007 election – I know how difficult it can be to ensure safety at the border. The government’s decision to close Uganda’s frontiers reflects its commitment to protecting the entire population, including refugees.

To be sure, Uganda’s refugee management is not free of controversy, including allegations of corruption and fraud. But the authorities are cooperating with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Programme to investigate concerns about the accuracy and reliability of data used for refugee programming, fundraising, and assistance. In 2018, Uganda’s government began to verify refugees using UNHCR’s biometric systems.

Displaced populations are often thought to represent a dilemma, with governments forced to choose between protecting their own populations and protecting refugees and asylum-seekers. Uganda has shown that this is a false choice. With long-term planning and a multi-sectoral approach, governments can ensure that refugees and their host communities coexist peacefully, prosperously, and in good health

Agnes Igoye, a senior Aspen New Voices Fellow, is Uganda’s Deputy National Coordinator for the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons and Head of the Ugandan Immigration Training Academy.

The text has been adapted from Project Syndicate website

We can't do quality journalism without your support

Perhaps it goes without saying — but producing quality journalism isn't cheap. At a time when newsroom resources and revenue are declining, The Chronicles remains committed to "Serving Your Right To Know The Truth". Stand with us as we document Rwanda's remarkable journey for you and the future generation. Do you value our journalism? We can't do it without you. Show us with your support by CONTRIBUTING HERE.
Email your news TIPS to info@chronicles.rw or WhatsApp +250788351327.
You can also find us on Signal


  1. Having read this I believed it was really informative. I appreciate you
    finding the time and energy to put this short article together.

    I once again find myself spending way too much time
    both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!

  2. I like the valuable information you provide in your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here regularly.
    I am quite certain I’ll learn lots of new stuff right here!
    Good luck for the next!

  3. Hello, i think that i noticed you visited my blog so i came to go back the favor?.I am attempting
    to in finding things to enhance my site!I assume its ok
    to make use of a few of your concepts!!

  4. May I simply say what a relief to discover someone who really understands what they are discussing on the internet.
    You certainly understand how to bring an issue
    to light and make it important. A lot more people must
    read this and understand this side of your
    story. I was surprised you’re not more popular since you
    most certainly have the gift.

  5. Spot on with this write-up, I seriously believe that this site needs much more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read through more, thanks for the advice!

  6. Thanks for the marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading it, you are a great author.I will be sure to bookmark your blog and will come back in the foreseeable
    future. I want to encourage that you continue your great
    work, have a nice afternoon!

  7. Howdy! I just wish to give you a big thumbs up for
    your excellent info you have got here on this post.
    I’ll be returning to your blog for more soon.

  8. whoah this weblog is great i love reading your posts.

    Keep up the good work! You know, lots of people are
    searching round for this information, you can aid them greatly.

  9. State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbbo Jr. has introduced Senate Bill
    S4856, which amends the racing, pari-mutuel wagering and breeding
    law, in relation to interactive gaming.

    Take a look at my web site – more info

  10. Hmm it appears like your blog ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum
    it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.

    I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing.
    Do you have any tips and hints for beginner blog writers?
    I’d really appreciate it.

  11. Simply want to say your article is as astonishing.
    The clarity in your post is simply great
    and that i could suppose you’re a professional on this subject.
    Fine along with your permission allow me
    to grasp your RSS feed to stay updated with forthcoming post.
    Thanks a million and please keep up the gratifying work.

  12. Hey would you mind stating which blog platform you’re using?
    I’m going to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a tough time choosing between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.
    P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

  13. I love youг blog.. very nice colors & theme.
    Did you makе tһis website yourseⅼf or did you hire somеone
    to ⅾo іt for you? Plz reply ɑѕ І’m lookіng to design my
    oԝn blog and would ⅼike to find ⲟut ԝhere u got thiѕ from.
    thuank үou

    Αlso visit my web blog: оff couch [Verena]

  14. Excellent blog you have here but I was curious if you knew of any message boards that cover the
    same topics talked about in this article? I’d really love to be a part of group where I
    can get opinions from other experienced individuals that share
    the same interest. If you have any suggestions,
    please let me know. Bless you!

  15. What i do not realize is if truth be told how you
    are now not actually much more neatly-appreciated than you might be now.
    You’re so intelligent. You already know therefore considerably in the case of this matter,
    made me for my part believe it from a lot of varied angles.
    Its like men and women aren’t involved unless it is something to accomplish
    with Girl gaga! Your own stuffs excellent. All
    the time maintain it up!

  16. I loved as much as you’ll receive carried out right here.
    The sketch is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish.

    nonetheless, you command get got an shakiness over that you wish be delivering the following.
    unwell unquestionably come more formerly again since exactly the same nearly very often inside case you shield this increase.

  17. Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads up.

    The words in your content seem to be running off the screen in Internet explorer.

    I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do
    with internet browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know.
    The design and style look great though! Hope you get the problem resolved soon. Thanks

  18. Admiring the time and energy you put into your blog and detailed information you provide.
    It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same old rehashed
    information. Fantastic read! I’ve saved your site and I’m
    adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  19. Fildena 100mg is a popular and effective medication used to treat erectile dysfunction in men. It contains Sildenafil Citrate, a powerful chemical that relaxes the muscles of the blood vessels in the penis, allowing for increased blood flow and improved erections.

    With Fildena 100mg, you can enjoy longer-lasting and more satisfying sexual experiences. The medication is easy to use and starts working in as little as 30 minutes after ingestion, with effects lasting up to 4 hours.

    Unlike other erectile dysfunction treatments, Fildena 100mg is affordable and accessible to many men. It is also safe and reliable, with minimal side effects and a proven track record of success

  20. Cenforce 120 mg is manufactured by Centurion Laboratories, a well-known pharmaceutical company that produces a variety of medications for sexual problems. Cenforce 120mg uses Sildenafil Citrate as its primary and central salt composition at a potent dose of 120 mg. This is a class of PDE-5 inhibitor drugs that works by dilating blood vessels to increase blood flow to the penis. Cenforce also relaxes the muscles and tissues around the male genitals and pelvic area.

  21. Fildena Super Active can be taken with water once within 24 hours. Always take the medicine at the prescribed dose and do not change the dose or break the tablet. Do not consume alcoholic beverages while taking Fildena Super Active. Always take the tablet after a light meal or on an empty stomach so that the tablet works more quickly. It should be taken at least 50 to 60 minutes before sexual activity for optimal results.

  22. Vidalista 80 uses Tadalafil as the main and active ingredient in treating the underlying condition of penile erection problems. This is a class of PDE 5 inhibitor drugs known for its natural solution. It begins to work by dilating blood vessels and clearing blocked arteries. Vidalista 80mg also makes the muscles and tissues around the pelvic area more agile and flexible. As a result, it pumps enough blood to the penis and makes it straight and hard for the desired duration during sexual activity so that you can enjoy a longer duration with your partner.

  23. Super Vilitra uses two different drug compositions and targets two different conditions that are interrelated. It uses Vardenafil and Dapoxetine as active ingredients. Buy Super Vilitra is a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor that works by increasing blood flow to the penis and making it erect and hard for longer. Dapoxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor that increases serotonin action in the postsynaptic cleft, delays orgasm and helps with premature ejaculation.

  24. Kamagra Chewable Tablet is a chewable tablet, which means you can simply swallow it and it will start showing its effects before any other medicine. You should only take one Buy Kamagra Chewable within 24 hours and if you miss a dose, take it immediately before the next dose, but do not overdose as this may harm your health. Do not consume alcoholic beverages while taking medication. It should be taken at least 40 to 50 minutes before sexual activity.

  25. Please let me know if you’re looking for a article author for your blog. You have some really great posts and I think I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d love to write some articles for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please send me an email if interested. Many thanks!

  26. Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just
    your articles? I mean, what you say is fundamental and everything.
    But imagine if you added some great images
    or video clips to give your posts more, “pop”!

    Your content is excellent but with images and clips, this website
    could certainly be one of the greatest in its field.
    Great blog!

  27. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked
    submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr…
    well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

  28. It means the world to us to hear such positive feedback on our blog posts. We strive to create valuable content for our readers and it’s always encouraging to hear that it’s making an impact.

  29. It means the world to us to hear such positive feedback on our blog posts. We strive to create valuable content for our readers and it’s always encouraging to hear that it’s making an impact.

  30. From start to finish, your content is simply amazing. You have a talent for making complex topics easy to understand and I always come away with valuable insights.

  31. I appreciate the effort that goes into creating high-quality content, and this post was no exception. The insights and information were top-notch and made for a really engaging read. Keep up the great work!

  32. From start to finish, your content is simply amazing. You have a talent for making complex topics easy to understand and I always come away with valuable insights.

  33. Wow, marvelous weblog structure! How long have you ever been running a blog for?
    you made blogging glance easy. The whole glance of your site is wonderful,
    as smartly as the content material! You can see similar here ecommerce

  34. Hi, I believe your site could be having internet browser
    compatibility problems. Whenever I take a look at your blog in Safari,
    it looks fine however, when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping issues.

    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Besides that, excellent blog!

  35. Very good blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost
    on everything. Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so
    many options out there that I’m completely overwhelmed ..
    Any ideas? Cheers!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *