Local Integration as a Durable Solution? The Case of Rwandan Refugees in Uganda

Frank Ahimbisibwe, Bert Ingelaere, and Sarah Vancluysen

IOB Discussion Paper, No. 2017-02



UNHCR has invoked the cessation clause for Rwandan refugees, which after several postponements came into effect on December 31, 2017. This paper considers options for durable solution for some 17,000 Rwandan refugees in Uganda, and argues that a policy facilitating local integration is the preferred option for many Rwandan refugees in Uganda. Taking into account the perspectives of Rwandan refugees, the authors analyze the impediments to local integration, including: (a) refugees’ fears of losing their culture or language; (b) scarcity of resources, particularly land; (c) resentment or xenophobia fueled by competition for employment and land, and additional pressure on infrastructure and services; (d) the perception that opposition parties would not support local integration; and (e) legal obstacles to citizenship. The authors recommend that: (1) local integration as a durable solution can be encouraged through assistance programs that benefit both refugees and local communities; and (2) Uganda’s conflicting laws need to be addressed in order for refugees to acquire citizenship.