On June 19 we commemorated the International Day of Elimination of Sexual Violence. This year’s International Day of Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict was arguably shaped by COVID-19 and focused on the consequences arising from COVID-19 on the lives of the survivors, including difficulties in delivery of support to CRSV. In the statement to mark the occasion, RLP asked the question; What if we responded to sexual violence in conflict as an existential threat?
The press statement took a critical look at what the national and international response to COVID-19 has taught us thus far about our collective potential to end sexual violence in conflict. If we can mobilise the resources and will to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, if we can close airports and public transport to better control the virus, couldn’t we do the same to better control sexual violence in conflict? While COVID-19 has directly harmed our capacity to respond to survivor needs in the short term, it has also made clear that to eliminate sexual violence in conflict we need a sea change in how it is perceived. We need to see it as the existential threat it undoubtedly is, and invest time, effort and resources correspondingly.
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.
For refugees, the Covid 19 pandemic is beyond a health crisis, but escalates challenges faced by those already pushed to the margins of society. Refugees are not only at risk from the virus itself, they are severely affected by the negative impacts of measures to control the pandemic. In our statement, Inactivity is Perpetration we highlight the plight of refugees in Uganda during the pandemic; tribal clashes within the settlements, food ratio reductions, gender-based violence exacerbated by the Covid 19 prevention stay at home guidelines, inadequate information, failure to access medical services, are just some of the challenges faced by refugees that the pandemic has amplified.
Deeply concerned about the psychological impacts of COVID-19 on individuals, their families and communities in general, Uganda Counselling Association in partnership with Sanyuka TV deemed it necessary to dedicate a moment to discuss the associated psychological stress of COVID-19 and the resultant lockdown in Uganda. Hosted by Hatmah Nalugwa Sekaaya during #MorningXpress on 1 April 2020, Uganda Counselling Association was represented by Sarah Kalyowa, a seasoned Counsellor and General Secretary of Uganda Counselling Association.
Gadgets have replaced already a lot in our lives. However, let’s not allow them to replace our relationships and the greatness in our true beings. Above all, not to replace the core value of humanity which embraces togetherness. Let’s talk about it!
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.