New article by Alexander Betts examines political history of Uganda’s ‘progressive’ refugee policies

19 April, 2021

A new article by Alexander Betts examines the politics behind Uganda’s widely praised approach to refugees.

Despite hosting more refugees than any other country in Africa, it has taken a different approach to other countries in the region, allowing refugees the right to work and significant freedom of movement. Its self-reliance policy for refugees has been recognised as among the most progressive refugee policies in the world.

Based on archival research and elite interviews, the article provides a political history of Uganda’s self-reliance policies from independence to the present, unveiling significant continuity in both the policies and the underlying politics. Betts argues that refugee policy has been used by Ugandan leaders to strengthen patronage and assert political authority within strategically important refugee-hosting hinterlands. The politics of patronage and refugee policy have worked hand-in-hand.

Alexander Betts (2021) 'Refugees and patronage: a political history of Uganda’s ‘progressive’ refugee policies', African Affairs, DOI: 10.1093/afraf/adab012