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The Refugee Process in Uganda

The Refugee Process in Uganda


There are two routes to apply for refugee status in Uganda, depending on whether you register in a refugee settlement or in Kampala.

In a refugee settlement

The asylum procedure for asylum seekers arriving directly in the refugee settlments is as follows:
  1. Report directly to the Settlement Commandant for registration.
  2. Await refugee status determination interview to be conducted in the settlement by a Sub-Committee of the Refugee Eligibility Committee (REC). The Settlement Commandant will in due course communicate the dates for the interviews.
  3. Upon the granting of refugee status, OPM will allocate a plot of land per family and the family will then be provided with basic assistance including non-food items, food and ration cards that will entitle them to monthly food rations.
  4. In case of protection related issues, report these to UNHCR staff in the settlement.

In Kampala

Upon arrival, go to the Crime Intelligence office at Old Kampala Police Station for registration.  You will be given a card and a date for further registration.

On the scheduled date, report to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) with your dependents. Bring all documents that might make your identity and profile clearer (passports, identity documents, school diplomas, letters of support etc). Every member of your household below 18 will be registered with you - all individuals above 18 will be registered separately.

You will be issued with a Temporary Asylum seeker attestation, renewable after 3 months from the date of issue and thereafter every month. After registration at OPM, you must report back to Crime Intelligence Offices at Old Kampala Police Station for a second interview for refugee status determination.

Your status is decided by the Refugee Eligibility Committee (REC). The decision will be communicated by the Office of the Prime minister department of Refugees (OPM). If you are unhappy with the decision, you can appeal within 30 days of receipt of the notice of the decision of the REC.

Meeting with the UNHCR
UNHCR schedules appointments to meet refugees and asylum seekers in Kampala at the offices of InterAid and the Branch Office Extension (see address below). Due to the large number of refugees and asylum seekers in Kampala, the UNHCR can only meet with people who have made a prior appointment or have an emergency need. Appointments are made through InterAid's legal department.

Appointments for individual counselling by UNHCR are made by InterAid (Uganda), the UNHCR's main implementing partner for the Urban Programme (their physical address is included in their brochure on services). Please not there are specific days for specific nationalities:

Monday - Congolese; Tuesday - Burundians, Eritreans, Sudanese, the Elderly & others; Wednesday - Rwandans, Ethiopians & the Youth; Thursday - Somalis & persons living with disabilities.

For more information, please have a look at this UNHCR brochure.

UNHCR Branch Office Extension, Kampala
Plot 279
Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road

InterAid Uganda
Plot 1102, Block 8, Kabaka-Anjagala Road, Rubaga
P.O. Box 7064, Kampala
Tel: 0414-347022

Office of the Prime Minister (OPM)
Refugee Directorate
Plot 43, Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road,
P.O. Box 341, Kampala
Tel: 0414-230758 or 0414-230768

Old Kampala Police Station
Old Kampala Road
P.O. Box 7064, Kampala

Third-Country Resettlement

As a journalist in exile, you can sometimes be at risk in your country of refuge. This might mean that relocating to another country is the only way to guarantee your safety.

Third-country resettlement is not a common process, and is generally accessible only to the most vulnerable of refugees. It's not a right, and can never be guaranteed. Even if you do receive third-country resettlement, it can take a long time until the process is finalised and you are on your way.  

All requests for third-country resettlement are processed by UNHCR, which can be contacted here:  
UNHCR Head Office, Uganda
Plot 18, Prince Charles Drive, Kololo, Kampala, Uganda
+256 41 4231231

For more information about resettlement, please have a look at this UNHCR brochure.

Cost of obtaining refugee status


Obtaining refugee status should be entirely free. If you are asked for money at any point during the refugee process, be sure to contact us, mentioning the time, date, location and details of the event.

Who can I contact for support?


The Refugee Law Project, an organisation specialising in legal support for refugees in Uganda, can provide legal aid if you’re facing difficulties. They are also a good point of contact for other forms of assistance, such as English language training and professional working groups.

Take a look at our list of organisations that can assist you.

Your rights and duties as a refugee in Uganda


As a refugee in Uganda, your rights and duties are enshrined in law.

You have the right:

  • to be issued with an identity card.
  • to remain in Uganda while your refugee status still holds. [NOTE]
  • to fair and just treatment without discrimination.
  • to elementary education.
  • to own and dispose of property.
  • to practice a profession and have access to employment opportunities.
  • of association and freedom of movement subject to certain restrictions.
  • to move freely within Uganda.
  • to have a travel document unless reasons of national security require otherwise.
It is your duty:
  • to conform to all laws and regulations currently in force in Uganda. Conform to measures taken for the maintenance of public order.
  • not to engage in activities which may endanger state security, harm public interests or disrupt public order
  • not to engage in political activities whether at local or national level.
  • not to undertake any political activities within Uganda against any country including their countries of origin.
  • to pay taxes in accordance with the applicable laws of Uganda if engaged in gainful employment.
Despite the fact that employment is legal for asylum seekers in Uganda, please note that job prospects are rare. The media sector is especially competitive. 

For further information…

It's very important that refugees know their own rights and duties. As a journalist, your training also puts you in a prime position to communicate this information to other refugees.

Below is a short list of online resources available that can give you more information: 
  • The main base for legal regulation concerning refugees: the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, to both of which the Republic of Uganda is a signatory – available on the UNHCR website;
  • UNHCR’s latest Global Report on the refugee situation in Uganda:
  • UNHCR-Uganda’s webpage;
  • The Refugee Law Project website can give you a more exhaustive view of debates surrounding refugee issues in Uganda..

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