“Refugees and asylum seekers are extra vulnerable. They, too, have the right to correct information about sexual and reproductive health, and access to help and counseling whenever they have questions or problems”. Ineke van der Vlugt. Programme coordinator. Rutgers
Uganda is currently hosting more than 1.2 million refugees whose 60% are children (World Bank, 2017). An average of 2,000 people arrives daily since July 2016 – as the pressure on the public services and local resources is immense – with the authority and the locals visibly struggling to keep up. As such, part of the social problems facing by the these already marginalized children, young adults and women include luck of access to basic education, vocational skills, economic empowerment, sexual and reproductive health and rights...
Adolescent girls and young women are the most vulnerable to sexual violence, unwanted pregnancies and child abuse resulting in a lack of sexual and reproductive rights awareness due to their status as refugees. Results of the latest survey about serious issues affecting urban refugee youths in Kampala, shows that ninety-nine percent (99%) of 120 interviewed persons reported that xenophobia was the main driver of their adversity, unhappiness and suffering. They said: “We are already facing multiple and tremendous difficulties including sexual violence, sexual exploitation, unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortion, child marriage, harassment, family disapproval, social isolation. These threats cause poor self-esteem and feelings of shame and lead us to more unsafe abortion, emotional distress, suicide attempts, substance use, and risky sexual behavior”. “We do not know who we are and what we are. We are only waiting for death and maybe we are already dead!” they added. Other facts showed that adolescent girls aged 14 – 16 years accounted for 40% of new unwanted pregnancies and sexual infections among all 120 persons interviewed. Data suggest this number is large enough to warrant special attention and targeted programming, such as the peer-education on sexual and reproductive rights.
This project targets 60 urban refugee youth leaders including adolescent girls and young women aged 14 – 25 of which 70% are from Burundi, DR Congo and Rwanda (42) vs. 30% are from Somalia, Ethiopia and South Sudan (18). Participants are chosen through a selective application and interview process to ensure that they are strongly motivated to be actively involved, and committed to participate in all the project activities, and that their peers recognize their motivation, commitment and potential.
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