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Both Kenya and Uganda have adopted policies that require most refugees to live in refugee camps, or settlements, as they are called in Uganda. These policies have been decided and are implemented by each of these governments in collaboration with UNHCR. Refugees living in urban areas are violating this requirement. As a result, refugees are vulnerable to the kinds of human rights abuse documented in the two previous sections of this report, such as police harassment, arrest, detention, and in Kenya even refoulement after being charged with illegal entry.

Several of the refugees interviewed for this report arrived in Nairobi or Kampala after spending some time in refugee camps. While it has often been assumed that refugees flee to cities for economic reasons,130 the following sections outline the most common reasons refugees gave to Human Rights Watch for leaving camps. What these sections show is that the decision to leave a camp is not necessarily taken lightly, and that the camp confinement policies of Kenya and Uganda are sometimes forcing people to live in places they find terribly unsafe.

After analyzing the reasons why some refugees feel compelled to leave camps, the camp confinement policies of Kenya and Uganda will be briefly described. Finally, the legality of camp confinement policies is examined under international human rights standards.

130 See, e.g. UNHCR, "Policy and Practice Regarding Urban Refugees: A Discussion Paper," October 1995 (noting that "urban refugees and asylum seekers tend to be influenced by some of the same push and pull factors" as "unequal development and a growing North-South divide" and a "growth in economically-driven migrations.").

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