Uganda is facing the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world. According to recent data from the UN Refugee Agency, there are currently 950,562 South Sudanese refugees in Uganda, with an estimated 42,000 new arrivals every month, at up to 2000 people per day. 80% of the refugees arriving in Uganda are women and children. This week’s Solidarity Summit hosted by the President of Uganda and the Secretary General of the United Nations seeks to mobilise additional support, since such high numbers of refugees is placing excessive pressure on state and host community resources.
Life saving reproductive health services to South Sudanese refugees:
Women refugees carry the greatest burden, having to protect their families in times of hardship in addition to being the primary caregivers. Women and girls are also at a high risk of gender-based violence. Unfortunately this happens not only as women and girls are fleeing the conflict and trying to arrive at the Ugandan border, but also on arrival in the various refugee settlements. With support from the United Nations Population Fund, ACORD Uganda has been providing lifesaving reproductive health services to South Sudanese refugees in Adjumani and Lamwo.
This has included:
- Mapping pregnant women in the settlements and encouraging them to attend ante-natal care classes to ensure they give birth safely
- Recruiting and supporting 10 midwives in health centers in Adjumani and Lamwo that serve both the refugee and host community populations. This has ensured that mothers are able to deliver their babies safely.
- Provision of dignity kits to newborns and mothers at health facilities. This has led to an increase in the number of women choosing to give birth at a health center as opposed to through a traditional birth attendant.
- Maintenance of 2 ambulances supporting maternal and other medical referrals of patients within the refugee settlements.
- Undertaking sexual and reproductive health awareness particularly targeting the youth through youth spaces and providing relevant services.
- Youth and women have also been provided with livelihood skills training in areas such as baking, knitting and hairdressing. This has enabled them to supplement their incomes and support themselves and their families.
- Formation of Anti GBV clubs in schools. This is in order to raise awareness among youth and change their mindsets about the acceptability about this vice.
- Supporting communities to realize social change using the SASA! Methodology: an interactive community mobilisation approach for preventing violence against women and HIV. This methodology focuses on addressing the root causes of both GBV and HIV in communities.
ACORD would like to continue and expand its support to refugees in Uganda in partnership with the UN system and the Ugandan Government. We have the expertise, connections and necessary network to provide rapid and quality response. What is needed is additional resources as currently requested by the Uganda Government and the United Nations.