Home Institution

Georgetown University

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Program Name

Uganda: Post-Conflict Transformation


Between mid-December 2013 and early May 2014, more than 71,000 refugees fleeing violence in South Sudan sought refuge in Adjumani District in northern Uganda. This major influx has challenged the capabilities of the Ugandan government, the international community, and humanitarian actors to provide for the basic human needs and security of these refugees. The complex ethnic dimensions of the conflict in South Sudan uniquely influenced this refugee influx, with ethnic tensions playing a significant role in the physical security of South Sudanese refugees in transit camps and settlements in Uganda. Through research in refugee hosting areas (RHAs) in Adjumani District, this study assesses the security challenges faced by South Sudanese refugees in Uganda to better understand the security effects of international forced migration induced by ethnic conflict.

During four weeks of fieldwork in April and May 2014, data was collected through interviews with government officials, aid staff, and refugees, meetings of refugee protection stakeholders, observation of Peace Prayers, a perceptions questionnaire administered to adult refugees, and a month-long internship with the Catholic Relief Services (CRS)/Caritas team implementing assistance programs at Ayilo Refugee Settlement. This research found that: (1) ethnic zoning policies have a significant effect on refugee security in northern Uganda and opportunities for peace building; (2) the unique role of the Ugandan host community in settling refugees causes significant tensions and risks of conflict; (3) refugees face additional security risks from sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), crime within RHAs, potential forcible military recruitment, and tensions between refugees and aid workers over aid distribution; and, (4) current approaches to conflict mitigation and peace building by the Government of Uganda (GoU) and its partners are limited and inconsistent with the international legal obligation to protect refugees from security threats.


Family, Life Course, and Society | Inequality and Stratification | Peace and Conflict Studies


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