Berghahn Books Logo

berghahn New York · Oxford

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Instagram

A Refugee Pastor in a Refugee Church

Karen Lauterbach

World Refugee Day (20 June) offers a chance to raise awareness of the plight of refugees around the world and of the efforts to protect their human rights. In the spirit of this day, we are featuring an excerpt from “‘A Refugee Pastor in a Refugee Church’: Refugee-Refugee Hosting in a Faith-Based Context” by Karen Lauterbach (published in Migration and Society, Vol 4: Issue 1).

Amid the increasing number of refugees in Uganda—almost 1.4 million in January 2020 (UNHCR 2020b)—there has been significant growth in the number of urban refugees. According to UNHCR’s figures, there are around 78,500 persons of concern registered in urban areas in Uganda (UNHCR 2020a). It is also estimated that more than 40,000 Congolese refugees and asylum seekers live in Kampala (Gusman 2018). The majority of the Congolese refugees and asylum seekers come from the eastern parts of DRC, which have experienced decades of ongoing protracted violence. Uganda has been praised for its open and progressive refugee policy that builds on a long history of hospitality. Nevertheless, a number of challenges and criticisms have been pointed out, including the lack of alternatives to encampment—which puts urban refugees in a particularly vulnerable situation and limits their freedom of movement—and the lack of durable solutions in situations of protracted crisis (Hovil 2018). In 1999, the country introduced its self-reliance strategy with the aim of enabling refugees to take care of their own needs. The current policy was established in the Refugees Act of 2006 and the 2010 Refugees Regulations and includes the right to work, freedom of movement, and the right to settle in both urban and rural areas (Ahimbisibwe 2018Betts et al. 2019Monteith and Lwasa 2017). This means that urban areas have become recognized by the Ugandan state as legitimate spaces for refugees to reside and work. However, although refugees and asylum seekers in urban areas should in principle access assistance from the same sources as the Ugandan citizens of Kampala (for instance, through the Kampala Capital City Authority) as well as from a few NGOs and other institutions3 that provide limited assistance and protection to asylum seekers (Lyytinen 2015), in reality they are not entitled to the same humanitarian assistance as refugees and asylum seekers living in rural settlements.

A part of the Berghahn Open Anthro Collection!

Advances in Research
Mette Louise Berg, University College London
Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, University College London

Stay Connected

For updates on our Anthropology list as well as all other developments from Berghahn, sign up for customized e-Newslettersbecome a Facebook fan, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and listen to our podcast, Salon B, on Spotify.