Contribution of the Three Durable Solutions to the Refugee Influx Into Uganda a Case Study: Nakivale Refugee Settlement
Author: NADINE NKUNZIMANA
Supervisor: Abisagi Ndagire Kasoma
Background: The size of refugee flows in recent years has generated urgent global concern. By the year 2015, as of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimation, there were approximately 16 million refugees globally. When refugees escape conflict in their own countries, their presence is often a burden for the host country, mainly because they compete with locals for resources such as land, jobs and food, among others. Regardless of the positive or negative impacts refugee influx has on host countries, they have to be protected by host countries under international law. The issue of refugee protection is set out in international refugee regimes such as United Nations Refugee Convention of 1951, the 1967 Refugee Protocol, Organization of African Unity Refugee Convention of 1969, international human right laws and national refugee laws where they exist. As the leading authoritative UN agency in protecting refugees, UNHCR has been and is still working in collaboration with state and non-state actors to protect and bring durable solutions for the refugee problem.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess the influence of the three durable solutions on the influx of refugees into Uganda focusing on Nakivale settlement as a case.
Method: This study adopted a case study design with an exploratory approach using qualitative methods (focus group discussions and key informant interviews). The number of refugees who participated in this study was governed by the size and number of focus group discussions and key informant interviews that were held. Nakivale refugee settlement was purposively sampled. Key informants were purposively selected. This study relied on two data collection methods; focus group discussions and key informant interviews. Qualitative information collected was analyzed using thematic analysis.
Results: It was noticed that all refugees opined to one major durable solution that pulled them to Uganda amongst all other possible host countries, this was the ease of integration with the locals while in Uganda. The commonest specific aspects of local integration that pulled the refugees were the aspect of peace and hospitability of the Uganda citizens.
Some of them were of the view that not being repatriated by the government did not inform their choice of the country but the other proportion of them stated that they chose Uganda because other countries can repatriate refugees sometimes forcefully even when they still have war in their countries. Likewise, key informants opined in accordance with almost all findings above, mentioning that it has been long since any refugees were actually repatriated to their home countries, and that is basically done on a small scale since most countries of origin of the refugees in Uganda are still war ravaged. They mentioned that, that notwithstanding, some refugees take advantage of that fact that Uganda strictly observes voluntary repatriation, which means that some refugees can stay in Uganda for as long as they want without being repatriated. About three quarters of the refugees reported that they had not chosen to Uganda as a host country on a presumption that while in any of the refugee settlements in the county, resettlement would be easy.
Conclusion: By and large, of the durable solutions, the most significant contributor to the influx of refugees into Uganda is the solution of integration where refugees harbor expectations of being integrated with Ugandan citizens, followed by voluntary repatriation and to a less extent resettlement.