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There Are Up to 100,000 Undocumented Refugees in Kampala-Lord Mayor

According to Lukwago, Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA discovered the huge number of undocumented refugees while conducting a refugee profiling study. Lukwago attributes this to Uganda’s open-door refugee policy, which even allows them to stay outside camps.
08 Dec 2021 06:56

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There are up to 100, 000 undocumented refugees in Kampala City, the Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago has revealed. He was launching a report by Freidrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), on rural-urban migration.  

According to Lukwago, Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA discovered the huge number of undocumented refugees while conducting a refugee profiling study. Lukwago attributes this to Uganda’s open-door refugee policy, which even allows them to stay outside camps. 

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He expressed concern that the refugees are not benefiting from programs meant for them, adding that KCCA has partnered with open society organizations to provide for the undocumented refugees, noting that the number is likely to increase because of the ongoing clashes in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.

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According to the United High Commission for Refugees, there are over 80,000 registered refugees in Kampala (UNHCR 2020 A). with the largest population comprising Somalians and Congolese.

Amoud Salongo Nyonsiya, a renowned refugee community leader from DRC who has stayed in Uganda since 2012 told URN on the phone that the problem of undocumented refugees is the biggest challenge they are facing as refugee leaders.

He also noted that there could be more undocumented refugees compared to the number quoted by the lord mayor. Amoud revealed that most of the undocumented refugees come from DRC and South Sudan, adding most of them originate from cities in their home countries and can’t stay in refugee camps.  

He explained that the main reason why these refugees are undocumented is fear to be placed in designated camps, which are closer to their home countries, and expose them to conditions that displaced them in the first place.

According to the FES report, 8 in every ten migrants to urban areas, arrived not more than 20 years ago with Kampala city being the most preferred distention. The immigrants seek better economic opportunities and service delivery. 

The report also notes that 5 out of every ten migrants are disappointed with life in the city versus what they expected to find when they were migrating and feel that the government has “badly” or “fairly badly” handled the main reasons why they migrated.

Four out of every ten rural immigrants also feel that issues concerning women such as marginalization or health care are “often or always” neglected.