Uganda's Refugee Management Approach within the EAC Policy Framework.

This paper provides a comprehensive review of East Africa refugee management framework both from legal, economic and political angles. In doing so, the paper provides a comparative analysis of different refugee management approaches in five East African members.

The East African region presents a unique case study for refugee management and protection. Not only has almost all East African countries (apart from Tanzania) experienced violent conflicts that forced millions of their citizens out as refugees or political asylum seekers but some countries in the region have also played key roles in hosting millions of refugees even from the horn of Africa. The 1959 civil war in Rwanda and the 1994 Genocide forced millions out of Rwanda. To date, Burundi remains politically unstable due to President Pierre Nkurunziza refusal to step down when his term expired. In Kenya, the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya forced millions to flee the once relatively peacefully country to find safety. The LRA insurgency in Northern Uganda displaced millions while the current South Sudan conflict has created the world’s worst contemporary humanitarian crisis.

Most fundamentally, the region has played pivotal role in refugee management and protection. Kenya’s Dadaab camp was home to more than 200,000 refugees for over two decades. Uganda’s Bidi-Bidi camp is currently the world largest settlement camp with more than 270,000 dwellers, all of them South Sudanese refugees. Uganda’s generous refugee management approach which almost treats refugees as its own citizens giving them farmlands, work permits, access to health care and school facilities has been hailed as one of, if not the best refugee management practice in the world.

Most specifically, the paper takes a closer look at Uganda’s refugee management ‘best-practice: How sustainable is this approach in the face of land shortage and the economic support for refugees and host communities within the context of larger national economic challenges? How best can the EAC as a regional block coordinate the management of refugees?

A plethora of recommendations for refugee management and protection approaches are suggested by this paper. Key of which is the need to different member states to develop robust and creative refugee management policies clearly spelling out strategies and contingency plans. As a next step, the harmonization of regional refugee policies will go a long way in influencing regional concerted refugee management initiatives.

Author

Donnas Ojok

published

Uganda, August 25, 2017