The GBV situation among refugees has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic as evidenced in the increase in GBV incidents and teenage pregnancies. As of September 2021, RRP partners managed 4,066 new incidents from 13 refugee hosting districts in Uganda. The prevalent incidents reported include Physical assault (29%), Rape (26%) and Emotional violence (24%). The pandemic brought to the forefront the vulnerability of women and girls in their homes, with the increase being linked to loss of household income due to restrictive COVID-19 prevention measures. The inability to meet basic needs has also led some women and girls to resort to negative coping mechanisms such as transactional sex. Iincreased drug and alcohol abuse during the lockdown as triggers for domestic violence.
Sectoral challenges include inadequate resources (including for police), lack of Mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) intervention to address deep trauma, limited safe house spaces, unlit areas in settlements, late reporting of cases and power imbalances as well as negative cultural beliefs that make addressing GBV difficult. In addition, the worsening socio-economic situation as a result of COVID-19 exposes refugees to increased levels of GBV.
The sector will continue rolling out the SASA! Together (Start Awareness Support Action) approach and build the capacity of staff, leaders, and existing structures to take lead on SASA campaigns. Enhance awareness on GBV during the 16 days campaign period. Strengthen case management systems through maintaining and equipping one stop centers established in health facilities in refugee settlements and support with training duty bearers on Clinical Management of Rape for GBV survivors and Sexual and Reproductive health Rights. Provide survivors and at-risk individuals with unrestricted multi-purpose cash transfers and basic financial literacy skills. Improve existing safe shelters to accommodate the increased number of survivors in the COVID-19.