Refugees in Uganda



Uganda is a country the size of Oregon with a population of 39.5 million people. While the official language of the country is English, it has 56 ethnic groups with each group having their own language and dialect. The largest ethnic group in Uganda is Buganda that makes up 16.5 percent of the population. This ethnic group that has traditionally had the most power and for which Uganda was named after. The Buganda people live in the central region where Kampala is located and thus Luganda (the language of the Buganda) is typically spoken in Kampala and other regions of the country.  Uganda gained independence in 1962 from being a colony of Great Britain. Uganda has experienced war and conflict under Idi Amin (1971-1979) where 300,000 people lost their lives and under Milton Obote (1980-1985) where another 100,000 people lost their lives.


Kampala is a large metropolitan city with a population of 1.5 million people. The central part of Kampala is divided into 7 hills where greater Kampala (suburbs) extends to 21 hills in total.  It stands 3,800 feet above sea level and borders Lake Victoria (the world’s second largest fresh water lake). Thus, Kampala has very pleasant weather year round ranging from 60-80 degrees.

Uganda continues to be one of the worlds most welcoming countries for refugees.

There are now over 1.5 million refugees living in Uganda (which has tripled since 2016) with around 300,000 living in Kampala. The largest populations of refugees are coming from South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo. Other populations are coming from Eritrea, Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan and Ethiopia. The majority of refugees live in more than 25 refugee settlements (camps) around the country. The largest refugee camp (Bidi Bidi) is now located in Uganda and hosts more than 275,000 refugees (most of whom are from South Sudan). Uganda is unique among the world’s countries hosting refugees in that refugees are free to move throughout the country and are eligible to work upon receiving refugee status.