Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement The Bidi Bidi refugee settlement is one of several located in Northern Uganda and covers an area mass of 250 square kilometers. It is the biggest refugee camp in the world and houses over 270,000 refugees. Most of the refugees come from South Sudan, a country that gained independence in 2013 but witnessed a new wave of instability and famine in 2016, forcing over 1.6 million South Sudanese to flee their homes. Out of the 1.6 million, 800,000 fled to Uganda. Uganda has one of the most compassionate refugee policies, allowing people to set up their own homes, and refugees are given the right to work and travel, which is uncommon. Uganda has, therefore, become a hot spot for refugees, which has brought an economic strain on the nation, forcing it to rely on humanitarian assistance to sustain millions of refugees.

Who Are the Bidi Bidi

The Bidi Bidi refugee settlement is home to a mostly South Sudanese population. Many of the inhabitants of Bidi Bidi fled because of the threat of murder or imprisonment from rebels or government soldiers. Having left their homes, often walking for days at a time, they arrive at the settlement center with nothing more than the clothes on their back. The process of becoming a refugee is often slow and hectic, but basic needs are met in a timely manner thanks to the NGOs and volunteers’ tremendous effort and funds that have been dedicated to making this refugee camp more livable.


Many of the inhabitants are affected by disease, predominantly malaria and HIV/AIDS. Malaria-carrying mosquitoes breed in wet environments, and due to the rains in Uganda, no one is safe from malaria. Therefore, it is imperative that these settlements have proper access to medical aid and resources to ensure the well-being of refugees. In addition to a lack of medical resources, malnutrition affects most of the population of Bidi Bidi and the rest of Uganda. The Ugandan government has been under pressure to provide food for those malnourished, but it is almost impossible without humanitarian aid and support.

Opportunities in Bidi Bidi

Each organization working within the Ugandan settlement camps and Bidi Bidi offers different and varied opportunities for refugees to support themselves and regain a sense of normalcy. Caritas is an organization aimed at promoting justice and helping the poor, and they have mobilized efforts to give aid to the people of Bidi Bidi. Depending on which zone of the camp refugees live in, some receive a plot of land, agricultural tools and seeds to begin to sustain themselves and create opportunities for businesses.

Many women in Bidi Bidi have access to psycho-social support and empowerment resources that have been set up within the camp. The U.N. has created a system of revolving funds, meaning that funds are replenished when used, which allows women to learn vocational skills such as hairdressing and helping women build their own businesses. This leads to empowerment and creates a sense of stability in an unstable world.

The Future of the Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement

The Bidi Bidi refugee settlement is the largest of its kind in the world, it uses what it can to create and offer opportunities and resources to refugees, so they may live more independently. It focuses on rehabilitation and independence and creates a sense of hope for the future of the inhabitants of Bidi Bidi. The unrest and violence in South Sudan still create thousands of refugees on a daily basis. The long-term solution is to achieve peace in South Sudan, so people can return home. However, in the short-term, it is imperative that Uganda receives humanitarian aid to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its inhabitants.

– Trelawny Robinson 
Photo: Flickr

Refugees in Uganda
Refugees from almost all of the countries that border Uganda — such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Kenya and South Sudan — chose to seek safety in Uganda over the last 20 years due to conflict.

Nakivale is a refugee settlement in Uganda that offers access to education and gives refugee children the opportunity to grow into leaders — a skillset that helps protect them from child labor and child marriage. Education in an impoverished area like Uganda can result in many positive benefits.

Educational Resources in Nakivale

Uganda encourages refugees to prosper, especially when it comes to education. Nakivale hosts more than 100,000 refugees, and provides them with numerous resources.

These resources include land, materials needed to build a home or a building where education can be present, and the opportunity to create one’s own work including through the avenue of education.

Working to Improve Educational Opportunities for Refugees

The chance to grow and build a community is embraced for refugees in Uganda. While there are indeed resources for educational opportunities, access to an established education system for children is limited in Nakivale.

However, there are initiatives for helping improve the lack of education. Since the government and the people of Nakivale are supportive of allowing refugees coming into their country, they are also willing to provide tools to promote education.  

One way that education is being improved in Nakivale is through the creation of a university. A group of young men in Nakivale created a university in the camp because they wanted to ensure that children had access to safe and adequate education.

Bridging the Gap

In 2016, 3.5 million refugee children did not have access to education. Knowledge is crucial to the impoverished because it can help them become leaders, build up their communities and keep them away from child labor and child marriage.

Refugees in Uganda have the tools and support they need to have an education. Education in an impoverished area not only benefits the people but also helps get rid of global poverty. Being educated, especially when dealing with global poverty, can help create a positive result for all impoverished populations.

– Kelly Kipfer
Photo: Flickr

cholera in Uganda
There has been a stream of refugees to Uganda due to the violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Republic of the Congo. The majority of the individuals who escape the brutality in those countries oftentimes find their way into the neighboring state of Uganda.

Killings and burnings of people’s homes are just a few reasons the Congolese are deciding to flee. Determination to evade the violence comes also with a sense of urgency for the Ugandan government and the people, even though there may be downfalls in the process.

Cholera in Uganda

The people of Uganda have recognized both their intake of refugees, and also the refugees’ individual issues. Ever since these people entered the country, there has been an outbreak of cholera in Uganda. This is a bacterial disease that can be contracted by drinking contaminated water and, if not treated properly, can be fatal. Since this disease is highly contagious, it is spreading rapidly throughout the country.

Most of the people coming from the Congo are screened but, unfortuantely, they are oftentimes already contaminated with the bacteria that leads to cholera at the time of their screening. “We are not doing enough to respond first,” said David Alula of Medical Teams International. “More attention needs to be paid to address the situation.”

Medical professionals understand that the situation occurs more widely and at a larger scale in the Congo, but 36 refugees have died thus far from the highly infectious disease.

Governmental Measures

The Ugandan government is doing everything it can to assist its people as well as the refugees experiencing the cholera outbreak. The nation’s head is working on emphasizing water treatment, staff recruitment to allow more people to be treated appropriately and the factors of what may have caused the severe outbreak of this disease.

“We had not planned for this kind of sickness all along. Everything is being doubled on the ground, and more efforts are [being] put in place to make sure it’s contained,” stated the Ugandan official in charge of Kyangwali, Jolly Kebirungi. It is quite remarkable to see the efforts that the Ugandan government is putting forth to help out; it treats the refugees as they would their own citizens. It shows a sign of unitedness and care that can lead to an ultimately more stable community.

A More Stable Community

“In Uganda, refugees are accommodated not in tented camps but in settlements, where they are allocated plots of land that they can farm and build their homes on.” Once Uganda accumulates enough power to ensure health and safety regulations through its medical professionals, the nation will have what it takes to contain and eradicate the disease in this region.

The main priority for Uganda is to maintain the well-being and safekeeping of the refugees they let enter the country. This strategy will lead to a nation of respect and will allow the country to prosper.

– Matthew McGee

Photo: Flickr

South Sudanese Refugees in UgandaSouth Sudan is a country located in East-Central Africa with a population of approximately 13 million. The country is rich in fertile agricultural land, as well as precious gems and metals such as diamonds and gold. Yet, South Sudan is one of the world’s poorest countries and ranks low in many socioeconomic categories, due to its brutal history of civil war and current tensions with Sudan.

South Sudan has a history of upheaval and political unrest. Prior to gaining its independence in 2011, the country was part of the large Sudan. Yet citizens from the south were not given the same political rights as those in the north, leading to two prolonged periods of conflict occurring from 1955-1972 and 1983-2005.

During this time, an estimated 2.5 million Sudanese died due to starvation and drought.  Finally, in 2005, a Comprehensive Peace Agreement was reached, in which the south was given a six-year period of autonomy to eventually be followed by a referendum to determine the final status of the country. The result of the referendum indicated that 98 percent of the population was in favor of secession.

Despite gaining independence, South Sudan has struggled to control rebel militia groups operating in the region. Following a year of peace, fighting broke out again in July 2016, leaving millions of South Sudanese displaced, as many were forced to flee their country into the neighboring country of Uganda.

The U.N. Refugee Agency estimates that over one million South Sudanese refugees have fled to Uganda over the last year, meaning approximately 1,800 refugees arrive each day. It has become one of the fastest-growing refugee crises in the world, with more than 85 percent of the South Sudanese refugees in Uganda being women and children under the age of 18. One refugee camp, just south of the border called the Adjumani Settlement, has over 210,000 South Sudanese refugees. These settlements often have limited space and resources, including limited water availability, yet thousands of refugees continue to pour into Uganda.

Despite Uganda having its own internal struggles, many experts have applauded the country for maintaining its open borders as well as its progressive approach to asylum. Uganda provides refugees with land to build shelter and grow crops. It allows the South Sudanese refugees the freedom to work, while also giving them access to public services including health care and education.

The Ugandan government is also working to garner additional financial support from other foreign countries including the United States. It hosted a Solidarity Summit in June to raise funds for South Sudanese refugees in Uganda; however, only 21 percent of the $674 million needed was actually received from the countries invited.

Despite the lack of funding, many organizations have provided their assistance to the South Sudanese refugees in Uganda. Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as Doctors Without Borders, has provided tremendous medical assistance to many of the refugee camps. Between January and April 2017, Doctors Without Borders provided over 20,000 medical consultations, and delivered over 250 babies and provided their mothers with adequate health care. Not only does Doctors Without provide basic health care, it also provides mental health care services to refugees who have experienced trauma through their displacement.

The government of Ireland also has airlifted over $500,000 of essential relief items, including blankets, shelter construction materials and mosquito nets, to assist the South Sudanese refugees in Uganda. Over the past year, Ireland has spent over $3.5 million in support of the refugees. The country also pledged solidarity and a willingness to support the refugees in any way it can.

Many organizations and countries have shown their support to the South Sudanese refugees in Uganda. However, the country is still in need of desperate financial resources to provide individuals with basic necessities, including food and water. Greater education on the South Sundanese refugee issue around the globe, coupled with additional financial support to fund the nearly $700 million needed, can provide displaced citizens with basic necessities in order to give them the ability to rebuild their lives in Uganda.

– Sarah Jane Fraser

Photo: Flickr