Crisis emerges as South Sudan refugees in Uganda hits one million record

ARUA, UGANDA – As the one millionth South Sudanese refugee enters Uganda this week, there is a desperate need for action for children.

The refugees are particularly vulnerable to the long-term effects of conflict which include intensified poverty, hunger and diseases. Opportunities to make a living are severely limited and food scarcity is a growing concern among refugees, a new study led by World Vision and UNHCR has found.

The report further found that the majority of paid work that does exist is part-time, from 0 to two days per week and pays less than 10,000 UGX ($2.78 US) per week.

“People told us they’re worried about the growing cost of food in the market, their lack of means to earn an income and, for refugees, their reliance on food assistance,” said Benson Okabo, World Vision’s Operation Director of the West Nile Refugee Response. 

The study interviewed 1,135 refugee and host community families in Arua District, in northern Uganda, and learned that while the youth are the majority of the population, most of them remain unemployed.

"With more than one million refugees from South Sudan in Uganda, we have to make sure that the children on the move are protected and that when they arrive, they are able to have opportunities to fully participate in society here," said Enid Kabasinguzi Ocaya, World Vision’s disaster risk reduction and humanitarian emergency affairs manager in Uganda. "Otherwise, with no options, there is a fear that they may return to South Sudan and take part in the conflict."

World Vision has been responding to South Sudanese refugee needs in Uganda since 2014. 

"With comprehensive support, the world will see that refugees from South Sudan and the host community co-exist peacefully and contribute significantly to the Ugandan economy. More can be done to ensure that children and young people are protected, have the right to food realised and are able to participate in sustainable economic activities by further funding and creating programmes to meet the ongoing needs of this refugee response," said Gilbert Kamanga, World Vision's National Director in Uganda.

Learn more: 11 Facts about life in northern Uganda's refugee settlements


For more information, pictures or an interview, please contact: 

Moses Mukitale |

Mark Nonkes |