The headquarters for the Department of Refugees-under the Office of the Prime Minister, is situated at Old Kampala, Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road. It houses the Office of the Commissioner for Refugees which is responsible for refugee management, settling refugees, programming and coordination of refugee actors and activities
Refugees are settled within refugee gazetted settlements, that are integrated within local communities. There are a total of 13 refugee settlements found in 11 Local Government Districts, where they are supported with relevant services. Some refugees have settlement on their own onto urban centres that are outside the settlements, especially in Kampala.
Each of the 13 settlements is coordinated by the Settlement Commandant (SC), who has semi-autonomous authority for managing and supervising the settlement matters.
Coordination of refugees at the settlements by the Office of the Commissioner for Refugees is done through the Regional Desk Offices (decentralized structures). There are 4 Regional Desk Offices, namely; Mbarara Refugee Desk, Hoima Refugee Desk, Adjumani Refugee Desk and Arua Refugee Desk. .
Each Regional Desk is headed by a Regional Desk Officer (RDO), who is vested with authority to coordinate and manage regional refugee matters and supervision of settlements that are within the respective regions.
Nakivale, one of the oldest refugee settlements in Uganda, was opened in 1958 and officially established as a settlement in 1960. The settlement hosts refugees from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan. During the Burundian crisis in 2015, the population of the settlement greatly increased and has since remained this high. Markets are bustling and food is available for purchase, but many refugees struggle to afford basic items.
Oruchinga settlement, which opened as a transit center in 1959 and was officially established as a settlement in 1961, hosts refugees from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda. The settlement is not receiving new arrivals, aside from family reunifications, referrals, and protection cases.
Kyaka II settlement was established in 2005 to receive the remaining population of Kyaka I following the mass repatriation of Rwandan refugees the same year. After this movement, Kyaka I was closed after 21 years of operations. December 2017 led to a new refugee influx into Uganda, with an estimated 17,000 new refugee arrivals in Kyaka II.
Rwamwanja settlement was established in 1964 to host refugees from Rwanda, but closed in 1995 when many repatriated. The settlement was reopened in 2012 to host refugees fleeing insecurity in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to violence in North and South Kivu. The settlement, currently hosting over 68,000 refugees, is at full capacity and no longer receives new arrivals..
Located in Western Uganda near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Due to its geographical location, Congolese refugees form the majority of the population but there are also Rwandese, Burundians, South Sudanese, Somalis, and Kenyans.
The Kiryandongo area was first used for resettling refugees in 1954 when the British colonial administration asked the Bunyoro Native Government to give the Colonial Government of the Governor to move Kenyan refugees fleeing the Mau Mau Uprising to Kigumba in what was then Masindi District. The Bunyoro Native Government gave land to the Governor for the period of 49 years. During the Idi Amin administration, the land was part of a large-scale government ranching scheme, of which reminders remain today in the names of the subdivisions of the camp. This left the land sparsely populated
Palorinya refugee settlement was established in December 2016 and is located in Obongi district in the West Nile region of Uganda. The settlement currently hosts mostly South Sudanese refugees with a total surface area of 37.58 square kilometres and is currently closed to new arrivals.
Lobule refugee settlement was established in September 2013.
Rhino Camp, originally opened in 1980, expanded in the wake of the South Sudanese civil war to host the sudden influx of refugees into northern Uganda. In August 2017, the settlement was expanded with the establishment of the Omugo zone extension area.
Bidi Bidi settlement was established in September 2016 to host the rapid influx of South Sudanese refugees, primarily arriving from the Equatoria region. The settlement population increased rapidly to over 220,000 people, making it one of the largest refugee settlements in the world. As of December 2016, Bidi Bidi reached maximum capacity and stopped accepting new arrivals.
One of the newer settlements in Uganda, Imvepi was opened in February 2017 to accommodate South Sudanese refugees after the Palorinya settlement in Moyo district quickly reached its capacity. Although the settlement no longer receives new arrivals, many refugees are registered at the reception center in Imvepi before being transferred to another settlement, such as the Omugo zone extension in Rhino camp.