According to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and UNHCR, in July 8,000 new refugees arrived in Uganda from South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Burundi, bringing Uganda’s total refugee and asylum-seeking population to 1.3 million.
UNICEF continues to provide basic services to refugee and host communities in refugee-hosting districts, including supporting the vaccinations of over 18,500 children against measles, providing treatment for Severe and Acute Malnutrition (SAM) for over 1,400 children, and facilitating the participation of over 13,500 children in activities in Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) in July.
In July, Uganda continued to respond to three cholera outbreaks in the districts of Bududa, Kisoro, and Kyegegwa. UNICEF supported the districts with the provision of cholera kits, capacity-building for health workers, and the distribution of information, education and communication materials on hygiene promotion and health education.
On 24 July, Uganda’s Ministry of Health (MoH) declared the end of the country’s sixth Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak, after 42 days passed since the death of the last confirmed case in Kasese district. However, the risk of importation of EVD cases from the DRC remains high, due to a highly mobile population across the porous border with Uganda.
UNICEF continued to intensify risk communication and social mobilization in select high-risk Ebola districts, including Kasese, which was the epicentre of the latest outbreak. Since the declaration of the last outbreak in June, UNICEF and partners reached nearly 244,000 persons (73,000 in July) with EVD prevention messages
Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs
Uganda continues to host the largest number of refugeesin Africa, with over 1.31 million refugees and asylum-seekers within its borders, according to UNHCR and the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). Nearly 840,000 are from South Sudan, 365,000 from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 42,000 from Burundi, and 67,000 from Somalia, Rwanda and other nearby. Sixty-one per cent of Uganda’s refugee population�or over 801,000 persons�are children. The average daily influx in July included 29 persons from South Sudan and 208 from the DRC, compared to June figures of 71 and 281 respectively.
In July, the national-level Inter-Agency Coordination group defined the population-planning figures to develop contingency planning for mass population movements from and to South Sudan, and from the DRC. OPM and UNHCR are in the process of developing a site assessment to determine the capacity of settlements to absorb new refugees, and partners will contribute their capacities to respond to potential large-scale movements across a 12-month period.
Ebola Outbreak: on 11-12 June, Uganda experienced its sixth outbreak of EVD, which resulted in 3 confirmed cases and 3 deaths in the western district of Kasese, which shares a border with DRC. The EVD cases, which were imported from the DRC, resulted in no local transmission. On 25 July, which marked the passage of 42 days since the last EVD death, the MoH declared the end of event in Kasese. However, Uganda remains at risk and on high alert for importation of EVD cases from the DRC. On 1 July, an EVD death was confirmed in Ariwara, a town in the DRC approximately 7 kilometers from Arua district in northwest Uganda, with many contacts and risk of transmission to Uganda. On 8 and 11 July, two Congolese fish traders who had visited Uganda developed symptoms, returned to the DRC, tested positive for EVD, and died; all contacts in Uganda were vaccinated, with none developing symptoms by day 21. Additionally, the confirmation of cases in Goma in the DRC has increased the risk of EVD importation into Uganda. In the districts bordering the DRC, there is frequent movement of populations due to trade, family ties, and persons fleeing violence in DRC. In July, approximately 1 million people were reported to have crossed the border for trade, family visits, and other routine movements.
On 17 July, the DRC outbreak was declared a Public Health Event of International Concern (PHEIC), triggering significant efforts by the Government of Uganda (GoU) and partners, including UNICEF, to rapidly intensify surveillance, response, and preparedness efforts across all pillars and high-risk districts.
Cholera Outbreaks: Uganda is currently responding to three cholera outbreaks in Bududa, Kisoro, and Kyegegwa districts. At the end of July, 1 death and 55 cumulative cases were reported in Bududa where the outbreak is linked to contaminated drinking water sources due to heavy rains and poor hygiene and sanitation practices at the household level. On 29 July, the MoH launched an effort to vaccinate more than 50,000 individuals in 207 villages in Bududa district. While no deaths have been reported for the outbreaks in Kisoro and Kyegegwa, a total of 13 and 11 cases respectively had been reported in both districts as of 19 July. Both districts have activated case management and heightened surveillance, including risk communication and social mobilisation in communities and refugee reception centers.
Measles Outbreaks: Uganda continues to experience a generalised measles outbreak driven by sub-optimal community mobilisation for vaccination and sporadic stock-out of measles vaccine at the district level. Nearly 1,300 cases and two fatalities were reported. UNICEF continued to provide technical and financial support to districts to strengthen routine immunisation through improved Reaching Every District/Reaching Every Child (RED/REC) micro-planning, communication, social mobilization, and service delivery.
Despite the above-average rainfall experienced in June and July, stressed outcomes (Integrated Phase Classification – IPC Phase 2) are expected to persist in north-eastern and eastern Uganda, and crisis outcomes (IPC Phase 3) are expected to persist in the Karamoja region. Following the prolonged dry conditions across the region, there is an urgent need to repair strategic water points that had broken down due to over-use from both human and animal consumption.
Source: UN Children’s Fund