HIAS in Uganda

From 2012 to 2018, HIAS provided critical protection and psychosocial services in order to improve the lives of thousands of refugees in Uganda. Despite having closed its operations in Uganda in January 2018 due to unforeseen funding restrictions, HIAS remains committed to the protection and well-being of refugees in Uganda, and is actively searching for opportunities to resume working there.


For several decades, Uganda has hosted refugees and asylum seekers from conflict-stricken countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Somalia, South Sudan, Rwanda, Eritrea and Burundi. Today Uganda is the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa, hosting 1,300,000 refugees, including over 1,000,000 from South Sudan, the majority of whom have arrived since July 2016. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), by the end of 2017, the country hosted close to two million refugees.


HIAS served the most vulnerable refugee populations in Kampala as well as some refugees outside of the city. These included male and female survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), separated and unaccompanied minors, older refugees, refugees with disabilities and other at-risk refugees.


The guiding principle of HIAS’ work was to build local capacities of beneficiary communities, encouraging self-help and tapping into resources already present in refugee communities, while also maximizing opportunities available through Uganda’s generous refugee regime and laws. HIAS protected urban refugees in Kampala, with programs focusing on prevention and response to SGBV, and psychosocial and mental health support.

Additionally, HIAS implemented a child protection program in Kampala and in rural refugee settlements in partnership with UNHCR to assist unaccompanied refugee minors and youth in accessing a durable solution. In order to further improve the situation of refugees in Uganda, HIAS educated municipal and local community leaders and law enforcement on the special needs and rights of urban refugees.
Psychosocial Services

HIAS improved the well-being of refugees by supporting communal healing activities and community-based psychosocial programming. Support for survivors included mechanisms for communal healing that view suffering as a collective experience and encourage the recovery and reintegration of survivors into the community. HIAS also worked to identify needs for specialized psychosocial services, and provides children with group or individual counselling as necessary.

Protection Services

HIAS worked with vulnerable refugees who have particular protection risks, helping them access safety either through their local community networks, Ugandan institutions or other durable solutions. HIAS provided these refugees with counseling relating to their protection concerns and works closely with them to provide case management services.

HIAS’s services are free. If someone tries to charge you for services claiming they represent HIAS, please report it at our confidential email address: ethics@hias.org. HIAS has a zero-tolerance policy on fraud and corruption.