Resilience is a dominant humanitarian-development theme. Nonetheless, some humanitarian-development programmes have demonstrably negative impacts which encourage vulnerable people to actively resist these programmes. Based on 12 months ethnographic fieldwork in a Ugandan refugee settlement during 2017–18, this paper argues refugee residents articulated their refusal of humanitarian failure and corruption through active, largely non-political, resistance. I term the diverse strategies used ‘resistant resilience’, arguing that the agency central to these practices require that assumptions about resilience are reconsidered. I conclude that this refugee community’s most important resilience strategies were active resistance, demonstrating that resilience can be manifested through marginalised peoples’ desire to resist exploitation.