By: Joyce Babirye K

The Minister of State for Relief Disaster Preparedness and Refugees   Hon. Esther Anyakun together with the UNHCR Country Representative Mr. Joel Boutroe officially launched a joint verification and profiling exercise of over 1.5 million asylum seekers and refugees in Uganda. The launch of the exercise took place at Oruchiga Refugee Settlement in Isingiro district on 21st October, 2021.

Oruchinga settlement is home to about 8,200 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Burundi and South Sudan. The verification and profiling exercise in Oruchiga will approximately take 10 days, then the team will proceed to Nakivale Settlement in mid-November 2021 and gradually continue to other refugee hosting areas. OPM and UNHCR are planning to complete the exercise by the end of September 2022.

The profiling and verification exercise is meant to validate and update the bio-data of asylum seekers and refugees in the country and provide them with new identification documents in addition to gathering  social economic information/data.

Speaking at the ceremony, Hon. Anyakun said,  “We are aware of the changes that take place in the refugee settlements, including refugee secondary movements to other countries, spontaneous departures back home, death and internal relocations from settlements”

She said that it is important that we periodically check how many refugees are still in the country to inform our planning and refugee response and accountability to everyone involved in the operation. Ms. Anyakun explained that during the verification, OPM and UNHCR will issue new refugee documents and identification cards with advanced security features. “This is very important in effective refugee protection and service delivery across the whole government and E-documentation rollout.”

Mr. Joel Boutre, the Country representative for UNHCR, said “This data will be valuable to tailor programmes for the most vulnerable and inform more development oriented interventions that are likely to unlock economic self- reliance and resilience,” He emphasised that “Evidence based and data driven decision making is critical to achieve a comprehensive refugee response, especially in a context of insufficient resources.”

The last verification of asylum seekers and refugees in Uganda took place in 2018. “Back then we committed to undertake this exercise regularly in a bid to enhance accountability and efficient use of resources in the refugee response” said Hon, Anyakun.

Mr. Boutre said the exercise will cost $ 7million (Approximately UShs 25bn).

The Acting commissioner for Refugees in OPM, Mr. Douglas Asiimwe said that the verification exercise is carried out every after two years, but it could not take place last year because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Hon. Anyakun thanked partners, especially UNHCR for the support in undertaking the verification exercise.

Uganda currently has a population of 1,524,352 refugees in 14 refugee settlements. These are Bidibidi, Adjumani, Nakivale, Rhino, Kyaka 11, Palorinya, Kyangwali, Rwamwanja, Kiryandongo, Ivempi, Palabek, Lobule, Oruchiga and some are in Kampala. End.