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Uganda

Enabling children to build their resilience, free from trauma and violence.

National context

Uganda is now enjoying peace and stability following years of war. Yet ongoing conflicts in three neighbouring states - South Sudan, Burundi and DR Congo - have seen massive numbers of refugees enter the country over the past two years.

Uganda is currently home to an estimated 1.4 million refugees - nearly two-thirds (61 per cent) of whom are children. This significant population increase has put pressure on Uganda’s resources. One refugee settlement alone - the Bidibidi Settlement - has grown to accommodate 270,000 people in a mere matter of months.

The East Africa refugee crisis also poses a threat to internal stability. Fears remain that Uganda will run out of funds to support its progressive refugee response. The majority of humanitarian funds have been directed towards this refugee response - leaving host communities impoverished. This - combined with the widespread scarcity of resources such as land - could see tensions between different communities turn violent.

Situation of children

Child refugees inside Uganda endure significant stress during their journeys to safety - including conflict-related violence and separation from family members. The trauma and distress experienced by refugee children and youth is both long-term and significant - initiatives to support mental health are a humanitarian priority.

Children and young people living in refugee settlements also face various threats to their rights to physical safety. These threats include sexual violence, child labour and early marriage. In addition, funding shortfalls mean that children living in camps and settlements are seeing their food rations shrink.

 

What we do

War Child works to protect and support children and young people in Uganda through projects designed to improve their psychosocial wellbeing. This approach - coupled with our education activities - enables children to develop coping skills, build their resilience and recover from the consequences of conflict.

Improved psychosocial wellbeing allows children and young people to better engage in education - and enjoy increased livelihood opportunities as a result. War Child also works with parents, caregivers and other important adults in children’s lives to further support and safeguard the improved wellbeing of children and youth.

To further meet the educational needs of both refugee and host communities, 2018 will see War Child expand its e-learning initiative - Can’t Wait to Learn - to Uganda. Can’t Wait To Learn is a global programme to provide conflict-affected children with quality education - no matter where they live.

War Child has been active in Uganda since 2004. 

 

Our projects

R40 - Recovery, Response, Resilience, Readiness and Opportunity

Initiative to enhance the protection and resilience of both refugee and vulnerable children and youth through specialised psychosocial support and mental health services.

Can’t Wait To Learn

Global programme to provide conflict-affected children with quality education - no matter where they live. The programme sees children play curriculum-based educational games on tablets to learn in an effective and fun way. Read more information about Can't Wait to Learn in Uganda here. 

Agribusiness Skills for Refugee Youth (ABSYR)

Initiative to increase the number of young people (from both refugee and host communities) who can generate income through being (self-) employed in agriculture. 

INCLUDE project

Major consortium-led project designed to meet the needs of out-of-school children through accelerated education programming and psychosocial support activities. 

Voices of children

Emma’s Journey to Safety

Emma tries not to think about everything she experienced in South Sudan. “It would affect my school performance too much,” she says with determination.

Without emotion Emma talks about her final weeks in South Sudan - and the horrors she experienced during her journey to Uganda. She recalls how the group of women she escaped with were shot at. Some of these women belonged to another tribe - and were raped and then murdered by rebels from their own tribe for being with the ‘enemy’.

“Fortunately, we were left alone by the rebels,” Emma says. “But time after time we came across new rebel groups. Fortunately we were left alone by them. But we came across new rebel groups time after time. We had to give them all our belongings, our money, our livestock. Those who had nothing more to give were beaten. With nothing we finally arrived in Uganda.”

Emma now lives with her aunt and cousin in the Bidibidi refugee settlement in northern Uganda. She is safer but finds it hard to adjust to her new life. “My aunt says that my parents will soon come here too,” she says. “I miss them because they have always taken care of me. And I miss the brick house we lived in and the food we ate. There was always plenty of food and it was nice. Here we only eat beans.”

“With nothing we finally arrived in Uganda.”