Sunday July 1 2018

CAOs lift lid on high birth rates, child marriages among refugees

CAOs lift lid on high birth rates, child marriages among refugees

Uganda hosts anywhere between one million and two million refugees from South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and other countries. FILE PHOTO 

By JOSEPH KATO

KAMPALA. Hundreds of children are born in different settlement camps per week, Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) of refugee hosting districts have said.

This came out at the launch of a study on public financing for the refugee crisis in Uganda conducted by the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) last Friday.

“We recorded every birth in these settlements and we were surprised to learn that 100 children had been born in one week in a single refugee camp. In the second week, more than 130 children were born and sometimes the numbers almost reach 200,” Mr Rasul Drajiga, the Yumbe District CAO, said. Yumbe District hosts more than 287,087 refugees.

Mr Drajiga’s statement was reiterated by Mr George Obbo, the CAO of Koboko District.
“When you visit these camps, you find very many breastfeeding teenagers. These people come when they are pregnant, while others conceive from these camps because they don’t have any work to do,” Mr Obbo said.

The CAOs called upon government to impart vocational skills to refugees so that they can engage in productive work, which they said may help to control population growth within the camps.

“We should understand that it is very difficult to enforce laws against defilement among refugees because such laws don’t exist in their countries. For instance, refugees from South Sudan have often told us that they don’t have laws prohibiting child marriages. To them, a 13-year-old is a grown up woman and ready for marriage,” Mr Drajiga said.

Mr Julius Mukunda, the CSBAG executive director, said the government can only address the refugee influx by considering them as a development issue as opposed to a humanitarian project.

“Refugees are no longer a humanitarian project because they have lived here for a very long time and there is no sign that conflicts in their respective countries will end soon so that they can go back,” Mr Mukunda said.

Uganda hosts anywhere between one million and two million refugees from South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and other countries.
The districts with highest number of refugees are Yumbe (287,087), Adjumani (9239,335), Moyo (165,587), Kampala (103,694) and Rakai (104,214).

jkato@ug.nationmedia.com

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