In the past year, more than one million South Sudanese refugees have fled violence and escaped to Uganda, where they can quickly settle into local communities and rebuild their lives.
Step 1 - crossing the border: A South Sudanese woman and her daughter cross the border into Uganda, fleeing violence from an all-out civil war that has displaced more than one million people since July 2016.
Some 86% of these refugees are women and children, with reports of armed groups forcing men and boys into their ranks. Ugandan police check refugees’ belongings at the border to ensure that weapons are not transported into the country.
After crossing the border, refugees wait to be picked up and driven by bus to a registration center, where they can be processed for resettlement in Uganda.
Step 2 - processing at the registration center: Children get water at a registration center run by Uganda’s Office of the Prime Minister and the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).
Refugees are only supposed to be at the registration center for 24 hours; however, the large influx of people (1,000–2,000 per day) has led to a wait time of up to five days.
Step 3 - arriving at a refugee settlement: After registering with the government, South Sudanese refugees are taken to the reception center at the Imvepi refugee settlement. They must wait at least 24 hours here before receiving land where they can build a new home.
South Sudanese refugees are given mats, blankets, water jugs and soap for their 24-hour stay at the reception center.
Step 4 - rebuilding a home: Refugees are finally given a 50x50-meter plot of land, and the poles, tarps and tools to build their new homes. Here, South Sudanese refugee Betty Unzia stands with her family in front of the new home she is building at the Imvepi refugee settlement.
Step 5 - starting anew: Unlike many other countries that make refugees wait in camps for years, Uganda supports integration with local communities from the outset. That’s why Zura Likichio, a Ugandan national, employs and serves both Ugandans and South Sudanese refugees in her Quality Restaurant at the Bidi Bidi refugee settlement.
Life starts anew for South Sudanese refugees in Uganda. Here, a Bidi Bidi girls’ soccer team warms up before a match. In the Bidi Bidi refugee settlement, 270,000 South Sudanese refugees have been rebuilding their lives since August of last year.