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Boston College

Publication Date

Fall 2017

Program Name

Uganda: Development Studies


This research was conducted in order to expand upon current understandings of the policies affecting refugees in Uganda and the United States (U.S.). Appreciating both policies and implementation strategies for each country is critical in providing the ability to fully grasp the reality of the refugee crisis faced by countries all over the world.

This study employed field-based research, including observations, focus groups, and interviews with refugees and those who implement refugee policies. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and implementing partners of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Uganda were interviewed, along with officers and commandants in the Office of the Prime Minister. Research was conducted within Kampala, Nakivale Refugee Settlement, and Bidi Bidi, the largest refugee camp in the world. Virtual interviews assisted in collecting information concerning U.S. policy. Additionally, a thorough exploration of the legal frameworks through which refugees exist, both in the U.S. and Uganda, was conducted through documentary research.

Preliminary research found that America and Uganda maintain distinctly different refugee policies. America’s Refugee Act of 1980 focuses exclusively on resettlement. This contrasts with Uganda’s Refugee Act of 2006, which emphasizes local integration and repatriation strategies. The research revealed that financial and infrastructure resource constraints, compounded by developmental obstructions, are among the most important implementation issues affecting refugees, especially in Uganda. These challenges highlight the complex nature of implementing refugee policy, as well as the intricate relationship that refugees have with national development.


African Studies | International Relations | Migration Studies | Peace and Conflict Studies | Politics and Social Change | Race and Ethnicity | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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