Probe unearths 300,000 ghost refugees in Uganda

Tuesday October 30 2018

South Sudan refugees.

Newly arrived refugees from South Sudan queue in line waiting to be registered on November 11, 2016 at Kuluba, Uganda. A new verification exercise revealed that there are only 1.1 million refugees in Uganda instead of the reported 1.4 million. PHOTO | AFP 

More by this Author

An audit of refugee numbers in Uganda has revealed that there are 300,000 ghost refugees.

The joint investigation by the government and the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, showed that Uganda hosts only 1.1 million refugees.

The probe followed allegations that officials were defrauding donors by inflating refugee numbers and diverting food aid.

“In total, close to 1.1 million refugees were verified and biometrically enrolled from the target population of 1.4 million refugees,” reads the joint statement from the Office of the Prime Minister, the UNHCR, and World Food Programme.

“This represents 75 per cent of the population that had sought asylum in Uganda prior to the verification start date in March 2018. An additional number of cases were closed upon verification due to death or spontaneous return to their countries of origin.

“More detailed results, analysis and updated population figures of asylum-seekers and refugees in Uganda will be made available soon,” the statement added.


Uganda hosts refugees who fled war majority of whom are from neighbouring South Sudan and some from Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo.

New rules

The verification exercise, which started in March, was concluded on Wednesday, October 24, and included Bidibidi and Kampala refugee centres that had not been previously covered.

The aid agencies have also rolled out new food assistance collection procedures in effort to curb fraud and diversion of the food and relief items.

Each aid recipient will have their biometric data confirmed in the database.