Since the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Uganda, lives have and continue to change dramatically. With several measures and televised Presidential directives, the #StayHome mantra continues to impact lives in various ways. Refugees and host communities have not been spared – if any, the pandemic has worsened the already biting challenges and vulnerabilities.
With some vulnerable communities in ‘hard-to-reach’ places at the receiving end of the directives and its associated enforcement and curfew, many of the things happening in and around refugee-hosting areas haven’t made it to the media. Many refugees and hosts are mired in inadequately documented challenges.
While communities have not resigned themselves to the hurdles at hand and are adopting numerous creative coping mechanisms, the ways in which such resilience and positive coping mechanisms can be supported and replicated elsewhere by government, civil society, and international actors requires further exploration.
Children come into contact with the justice system for various reasons. The 2019 Situation Analysis on Children in Uganda shows that 27% of children have been exposed to a crime. Despite the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) position that ‘putting children in prison should only be the last resort and for the shortest time possible’, there are children in many of Uganda’s detention facilities. Whereas many children come into contact with the law, many more suffer at the handsof adult abusers. UNICEF’s 2018 situation analysis shows that 44 percent of girls and 59 percent of boys aged 13-17 years had experienced physical violence in 2018. The outbreak of COVID-19 has further heightened the challenges as reporting and response mechanisms are temporarily affected.
On March 8, 2020 during the commemoration of the International Women’s Day at Ofua Primary School Playground in Adjumani district, RLP was recognized by UN Women, Adjumani District Local Government, and the Office of the Prime Minister for its “Outstanding contribution towards promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Adjumani District”. During this same event, Mercy Wanda Achiro, RLP’s Legal Assistant Adjumani Field Office was recognised as one of the committed and dedicated activists in the region.
After several years of work on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (CRSV), this declaration is a demonstration that through rigorous advocacy, we can collectively realise progressive transformation towards better support for survivors/victims and gender inclusivity. However, herculean hurdles lie ahead of the journeys toward realising contexts where all survivors can access and uptake services without discrimination, and where survivors/victims are not only beneficiaries of services but also active partners in response to and prevention of sexual violence.
I have had an interesting photography journey thus far! With numerous interactions with ‘professional’ photographers, I have learnt to view the world in an entirely different way. That said, I have contributed to Refugee Law Project’s photo gallery with my ‘raw’ photos which 'professional' photographers refer to as amateur, but I brand them as ‘organic photos’ since they contain no artificial additives. For those who missed out on my photos shared via social media and/or struggle with the constant bustle and alerts of the 'new media', worry no more – the Photo Gallery on RLP’s website is up and running with carefully selected and stunning photos.
Since June 20 was declared World Refugee Day by the UN General Assembly in 2000 the number of refugees and other forced migrants has escalated dramatically. Uganda is currently hosting 1,257,729 refugees and asylum seekers (figures as of 30 April 2019) – the highest in Africa and equivalent to the population of Mauritius.
Hits: 48Editor’s Note: This post was originally published by Refugee Law Project on March 8, 2018. Click HERE to download the statement. We recently commemorated the International Women’s Day under the themes “Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activists transforming Women’s Lives” (international) “Empowerment of Rural Women and Girls: Challenges and Opportunities” (national). I invite you to read Refugee Law