Booze blamed for abuses at refugee camps



from HASSAN ONYANGO in Kampala, Uganda
KAMPALA, (CAJ News) UGANDA is experiencing an escalation of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) at its refugee camps during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.

Authorities attributed the surge to increased alcoholism, reduced food rations, economic hardship and inability to earn money.

Since January, a total of 1 860 SGBV incidents have been recorded in refugee settlements including the capital, Kampala, with 1 725 female and 135 male survivors.

Of the total, 729 incidents were reported between January and March.

Another 1131 were documented between April and June.

This represents an increase of 55 percent in the three months that followed the enforcement of the lockdown measures in Uganda.

Twelve out of 14 sites hosting refugees showed an increase in the number of SGBV incidents.

The top three reported incidents were physical assaults (566), rape (486) and psychological abuse (396) by the end of June.

The SGBV sub-working group, co-chaired by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and UN Population Fund (UNFPA) disclosed the figures.

Uganda has confirmed 1124 cases of COVID-19 but no deaths.

More than 50 of those infected are refugees.

More than 3 000 asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) entered Uganda following the temporary reopening of the border between July 1-3.

Other asylum seekers are from Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

They are fleeing endless conflicts in their countries and making the most of Uganda’s progressive refugee policies.

Authorities are considering a “refugee village”, north of the country, to accommodate the Congolese.

– CAJ News

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