What are the needs?
The crisis in South Sudan has triggered the displacement of almost 500 000 people to the neighbouring countries, in particular Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda.
Since 2011, Uganda has been experiencing a number of refugee emergencies with influxes from the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Since December 2013, people have also been coming from South Sudan into Northern, Midwestern and Central Uganda. With the renewed fighting in Juba in July 2016, which has spread into other parts of the country, a new refugee crisis has emerged with even more people crossing into Uganda. At its peak, there was an average of 4 500 South Sudanese refugee arrivals into Uganda per day. The daily influx in October continues to be more than 2 000 refugees.
This sudden and continuous influx has created significant gaps in the provision of humanitarian assistance. The existing and newly created settlements have been severely congested and stretched beyond their normal capacity in trying to accommodate the new arrivals. Opened in August 2016, Bidibidi settlement in Yumbe district, now exceeds its initial capacity of 180 000 people and has become one of the largest refugee-hosting areas in the world. Women and children make up a disproportionate amount of the newly arrived refugees, presenting major protection challenges.
The situation in Uganda is exacerbated by other regional conflicts. New arrivals from DRC and Burundi are also entering Uganda through multiple entry points, exceeding 100 new arrivals per day with reported peaks of more than 500 people.
How are we helping?
The European Commission's humanitarian aid department (ECHO) is currently responding to the massive influx of refugees from South Sudan who settled in northern Uganda since 2013, in addition to providing support to the Congolese, Burundian and other refugees in Uganda.
From 2002 to 2011, the Commission allocated over €158 million towards assisting people affected by conflict and disasters in Uganda. During this period, funds were used mainly to assist the population in the northern regions affected by the violent conflict between the government of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).
Following the end of the conflict in 2011, the Commission officially closed its humanitarian office in Kampala. Nutrition activities among the Karamoja and other types of assistance were successfully handed over to the EU delegation supporting longer term programming for the country's development. This was a successful example of cooperation between humanitarian and development departments, which is supported by the EU initiative Linking relief, rehabilitation and development (LRRD).
In 2016, in response to the major gaps in the general humanitarian operation and response, the European Commission has allocated an additional €13 million to the refugee crisis in Uganda, on top of the €7 million allocation earlier in the year. This funding will ease the financial gap, particularly in addressing the need for establishing provision of basic services in the new settlements and scaling up efforts to decongest the overly crowded reception centres.