Congolese refugees in Kyangwali camp in Uganda, 2018 | Photo: Reuters
Congolese refugees in Kyangwali camp in Uganda, 2018 | Photo: Reuters

Uganda had closed its borders to all new refugee arrivals to try to stop the spread of coronavirus. 14 confirmed cases of infection have been reported in the country.

A country with a population of 45 million, Uganda hosts around 1.4 million refugees, mainly from South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.

The east African nation's reputation for having a progressive open-door policy towards refugees and asylum seekers is on hold, for now.

"Uganda has suspended receiving of new arrivals with immediate effect," a government statement said on Wednesday. "Refugees who are already in the country will continue to receive the support."

The measure was taken in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus, the government said.

Virus forces shutdown

About 13,500 refugees have arrived in Uganda so far this year, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

Uganda's government allows refugees free movement and employment. It also provides them with access to public services including free education and healthcare, while refugee families are given land plots.

However, some refugee camps in the country are very crowded, making coronavirus containment measures like social distancing hard to implement.

14 cases of coronavirus infection have been reported in the country. An eight-month-old baby was among five new cases confirmed on Wednesday.

With Reuters
 

More articles

Webpack App