The lack of a functioning borehole has added to the struggles of refugees in the Adjumani district, who have had to resort to using unsafe stream water for drinking and bathing. The refugees hope to somehow find the $4,000 needed to drill a new borehole.
In this edition RON, photojournalist Emmanuel Mawa Okang brings to light the plight of refugees seeking clean, safe water in Ajumani.
Rachel Namaganda is an unemployed mother of five. Her children are four to 13 years old. The family lives in Wakiso District, which surrounds the capital city, Kampala. Rachel says she is finding it hard to feed her kids: “Every sunrise, I am not sure what my children will eat.” They currently eat two meals per day – and both consist of porridge. Many people share that fate.
According to Hillary Onek, Uganda’s minister for relief and refugees, 30 % of the urban population currently need humanitarian aid. The background is the lockdown. President Yoweri Museveni first ordered schools and places of worship to close. Social gatherings have been forbidden. Later, public transport was stopped and non-essential workers told to stay at home. Moreover, a night curfew is in force. The lockdown will go on until 5 May. The country seems to be paralised. The lockdown caught many Ugandans unprepared and without food.
Food prices are rising fast. In some places, a kilogramme of beans now costs 6000 Ugandan shillings. That is twice the price of February. The government has warned against hiking prices, and some traders have been arrested. Need and desperation are driving prices nonetheless. Not getting enough to eat is especially tough for sick people. It reduces their recovery chances.
On the upside, Uganda’s government began to distribute food items like maize flour, beans and salt to vulnerable people in Kampala and its suburban areas. Sick people receive extra food including sugar and powdered milk. The efforts are good, but do not reach everybody in need.
Apart from food scarcity, there are other worries. A Congolese refugee who rents a room in Wakisa District reports that she is sharing a washroom with 12 other neighbours. It is a “nightmare”, she says: “Imagine the risk of touching a door handle infected with coronavirus; I am more scared of catching coronavirus than hunger.”
People are tense, moreover, and domestic abuse is increasing. The Federation of Women Lawyers is registering more cases than it normally does. Lillian Adriko, the organisation’s chief executive, says, it recently got 29 calls in a single week with women reporting domestic violence related to the economic situation. This is a high number, since this kind of violence, which is often linked to men’s excessive alcohol consumption, is normally hushed up. Now, however, fighting often seems to erupt about who in the family gets how much to eat. The organisation is appealing to local leaders to try to resolve some of the cases at the community level.
On Monday 27, the media reported that 79 Covid-19 cases had been reported in Uganda. So far, no one has died of the disease.
Gloria Laker Aciro Adiiki is a Ugandan Journalist. She is also a peace journalism activist involved in supporting refugees.
By Alex Pithua
In Uganda, the Director-General of Health Services, Dr Henry Mwebesa reveals that a total of seven non-Ugandan truck drivers are undergoing treatment in Ugandan hospitals.
In total, the country has registered 23 positive truck drivers with 1 Tanzanian truck driver who was officially repatriated and 13 truck drivers both Kenyan and Tanzanian exited Uganda on their own.
Previously the president said truck drivers will only stop in specific places, but there are reports of truck drivers being unfairly mistreated by locals in some designated stop-overs inside Uganda.
According to a post by the Ministry of Health on Tuesday, the total number of recoveries from Covid is 52 people who have been discharged and have returned to their communities, leaving now only 15 active cases out of the 81 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
However, Ugandan president Museveni in his latest address to the nation said blocking cargo trucks from bringing goods will be suicide for the country.
The fresh confirmed positive case was after Uganda virus research institute released 3 positive results of truck drivers intercepted at Pakwach who were almost exiting Uganda through the north-western part of the country, a situation that got the locals worried.
These prompted criticism for the decision of allowing free movements of trucks without testing the drivers at the border points within East African regional block.
Ugandans have mix reactions and opinions to whether trucks drivers must be tested at the border points or stop at the border and another driver continues to the next destination to contain the spread of Covid-19 within the East Africa block.
However, Ugandan president Museveni in his 11th televised address of the nation on covid-19 applauded the doctors for the job well done in treating covid-19 patients. This development came due to the commitment of the government and the ministry of health headed by Dr Ruth Achieng as well as the taskforce and media disseminating information about virus frequently.
Constant updates by news media set up in all regions in the country has contributed to enough information reaching communities in English and their specific local languages.
Nearly all focus of the over 150 FM radio stations, televisions and newspapers across the country are on Coronavirus pandemic in form of breaking news, hard news, mini and lengthy features, talk-shows alongside use of public service announcements (PSA).
PSAs are non-commercials messages meant to inform and educate listeners on a particular issue. and it’s being used to inform, educate and sensitize people in Uganda on staying safe from the killer Covid-19, a positive move in fighting the disease.
On the other hand, the lockdown of the airport, ban on the public transport and the imposed curfew of 14 days and additional 21 days has led to a shortage of essential commodities leading to hiking of prices of salt foodstuffs, essential commodities.
The biting price hiking came days after the first case of Corona patient was announced by the minister of Health Dr. Ruth Achieng, which foreign media dramatized as “Uganda’s virginity broke by a Dubai man” in reference to the first Corona case reported in the country.
But president Museveni saved the population saying those hiking prices of essential goods will have their licenses revoked and stores closed.
Although this has gone a long way in normalizing prices in some places, and also led to arrest of four traders in the West Nile district of Koboko over price hiking, however, the exploitation by traders has continued.
Alex Pithua is a Ugandan journalist based in Gulu-Uganda, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @OnlineRefugee
In Uganda kursieren viele Fake News zum Coronavirus, die von den Medien ungeprüft übernommen werden. Sie zerstören das Vertrauen in den Journalismus – und sorgen für eine Weiterverbreitung der Krankheit.
Auch in Uganda bestimmt das Coronavirus die Berichterstattung der Medien. Fast alle der über 150 Radiostationen, Fernsehsender und Zeitungen im ganzen Land konzentrieren sich auf die Corona-Pandemie und bringen Eilmeldungen, Nachrichten, Videos und Talkshows zum Thema. Sie veröffentlichen auch offizielle Meldungen, um die Ugander zu informieren, aufzuklären und zu sensibilisieren.Dies ist ein wichtiger Schritt im Kampf gegen die Krankheit.
Alle Haushalte, die über Radio oder Fernsehen verfügen, verfolgen die Ansprachen von Präsident Yoweri Museveni, der regelmäßig über die aktuelle Zahl der positiv auf Covid-19 Getesteten und die Situation der Menschen in Quarantäne informiert und zu Vorsichtsmaßnahmen aufruft. Millionen von Ugandern nutzen auch soziale Medien, insbesondere WhtasApp, Twitter und Facebook, um Informationen über das Corona-Virus auszutauschen.
Der Sündenbock für die Verbreitung des Virus‘ in Uganda war schnell von den Medien ausgemacht. Ein Ugander, der von einer Reise nach Dubai zurückkehrte, gilt als Patient Null Ugandas. Ein Online-Portal titelte: „Ist das der Mann, der mit dem Virus aus Dubai nach Uganda zurückgekommen ist? Wir enthüllen die Wahrheit“ und zeigte ein Foto des Mannes bei seiner Ankunft am Flughafen.
Kurz darauf stiegen die Lebensmittelpreise in Uganda dramatisch. Präsident Museveni intervenierte und warnte die Händler, ihnen die Lizenzen zu entziehen, wenn sie die Lebensmittelpreise zu stark erhöhten. Aufgrund steigender Rohstoffpreise wird es für viele Menschen dennoch eine Herausforderung, ihre Familien auch in der Krise zu ernähren.
Hohes Ansteckungsrisiko in den Slums
Zu Beginn der Corona-Pandemie konzentrierte sich die ugandische Berichterstattung vor allem auf Bekanntmachungen der Regierung und die Pressekonferenzen des Coronavirus-Komitees unter der Leitung von Gesundheitsministerin Dr. Ruth Acheng; inzwischen wird auch über die Reaktionen und den Schutz der ländlichen Bevölkerung sowie über die Auswirkungen der von der Regierung angeordneten Präventionsmaßnahmen berichtet. Ein weiteres wichtiges Thema ist das Leben in den überlasteten Slums von Kampala, wo das Risiko für eine Ausbreitung des Virus besonders hoch ist. Viele Medien fordern ihre Nutzer auch dazu auf, sich die Hände zu waschen.
Ein Beispiel mutiger Berichterstattung sind Artikel über den Fall dreier Kabinettsminister, die ihre Position ausnutzten, um ihren Angehörigen die Quarantäne zu „ersparen“. Präsident Museveni schloss die Minister wegen ihrer Handlungen aus allen Kabinettssitzungen aus, bis ihr Gesundheitszustand geklärt ist.
Medien müssen gegen Fake News arbeiten
Da sich das Corona-Virus weiterhin weltweit ausbreitet, besteht ein großer Bedarf an einer Neuausrichtung der Medien bei der Berichterstattung über die Pandemie.
Die zunehmenden alarmierenden Fake News über das Virus versetzen die Welt in Panik. Dagegen müssen die Medien sich mit all ihrer Verantwortung stellen und auf Sensibilisierung und Prävention setzen.
Dies beginnt zunächst mit der persönlichen Verantwortung der Journalisten, über „Breaking News“ und die generelle Aufregung hinauszugehen und über die globale Krise in einer professionellen Weise berichten, die dazu beitragen kann, eine weitere Ausbreitung zu verhindern.
Anstatt Fake News weiterzuverbreiten, sollte jeder verantwortungsbewusste Journalist das Thema Covid-19 aus der Perspektive des Friedensjournalismus betrachten, Informationen sorgfältig recherchieren und neue Narrative anbieten. Für jede Fake News über das Coronavirus braucht es eine gut recherchierte Geschichte, um die Bevölkerung nicht weiter zu verunsichern.
Angst vor der Behandlung im Krankenhaus
Dazu möchte ich ein Beispiel geben: Sylvia Nantongo ist meine Nachbarin in einem Vorort von Kampala, sie leidet gerade, wie häufig während der Regenzeit, an einer Erkältung, einhergehend mit Husten und hohem Fieber. Ins Krankenhaus geht sie aber nicht, da sie befürchtet, wegen Corona-Verdachts dort behalten zu werden.
Sylvia sagt, sie habe in sozialen Medien gelesen, dass sich viele Menschen, die im Krankenhaus unter Quarantäne gestellt wurden, erst durch die Quarantäne tatsächlich mit Corona infizieren. Sie behandele ihren Husten lieber selbst.
Sylvias Angst und ihre Weigerung, sich in einem Krankenhaus behandeln zu lassen, sind ein Beispiel für die Auswirkungen von Falschnachrichten. Sie führen zu Beunruhigung und Angst, und als Folge davon beginnen die Menschen, Krankenhäuser zu meiden und auf Selbstmedikation zurückzugreifen und verbreiten das Virus so weiter.
Vor kurzem berichteten lokale Medien in Uganda, dass ein Mann in Entebbe erschossen worden sei, als er versuchte, nach einem positiven Corona-Test zu fliehen. Diese Geschichte war unwahr und ein typisches Beispiel für Fake News, die das Vertrauen in den Journalismus zerstören.
Der ugandische Regierungssprecher Ofwono Opondo äußerte kürzlich in einem Beitrag seine Bestürzung über Medien und Experten, die nachlässig Unwahrheiten verbreiten. So habe es zum Beispiel zu Beginn der Pandemie geheißen, dass die ugandische Regierung sich nicht um Ugander in China kümmere oder unfähig sei, mit dem Coronavirus umzugehen. Derartiges Verhalten hat laut Ofwono zur Folge, dass „die Verschwörungstheorien von Möchtegern-Social-Media-Influencern Gehör finden”.
Journalisten sind überfordert und unterbezahlt
Viele ugandische Medien sind mit der Berichterstattung über die Dimensionen der Pandemie überfordert. Da viele Journalisten schlecht bezahlt werden oder sogar am Ende des Monats ohne Gehalt dastehen, obwohl sie manchmal für ihre Arbeit ihr Leben riskieren, sind ihre Möglichkeiten begrenzt. Die meisten Medienunternehmen bieten ihren Reportern außerdem keinen angemessenen Schutz vor einer Infektion mit der Krankheit.
Daher müssen die Medien in aller Welt gemeinsam Lobbyarbeit betreiben und eine angemessene Bezahlung und den Schutz von Journalisten fordern, die über hochriskante Situationen berichten. Bessere Bezahlung für Journalisten und die Bereitstellung von Sicherheitsausrüstung sind von grundlegender Bedeutung für die Berichterstattung über Epidemien wie Corona und Ebola.
By Gloira Akidi Laker
As Corona Virus continues to spread globally, there is a great need for the media to re-focus its approaches in covering the pandemic.
This is in the wake of increasingly alarming and fake news about the virus sending the world into panic.
Media emphasis need to be placed on the awareness and prevention and most importantly the media need to come out as responsible citizens with one voice and save the world from bleeding and say no to fake news and, how can this be done?
First of all, this begins with personal responsibility as journalists, look beyond the breaking news syndrome and excitements and report the Global crisis in ways that can aid the prevention of more spread and in a more professional way, geared towards contributing to ending Coronavirus.
Counter Fake News with in-depth reporting.
Instead of reporting fake news, this is what every responsible journalist should do, look at it from a peace journalism angle, and research on the fake news and offer a counter-narrative report bringing out the truth.
‘Therefore, there is a great need for every journalist, to offer a counter-narrative reporting to every alarming fake news about Corona Virus if we are to save the world because fake news is misleading, and destroys hope’
Sylvia Nantongo is my neighbor in the suburb of Kampala, she frequently suffers from Cold and cough during rainy season like now and it usually starts with high fever but she tells me she cannot risk going to the hospital because she fears she can be detained as a Coronavirus suspect.
Sylvia says she has been reading on social media that many people who have been placed on quarantine end up contracting Corona and she rather treats her mild cough herself.
Now as journalists, we can see that Sylvia’s fear and refusal to get treated in a hospital is an example of the impact of fake news in fighting Corona Virus, it leads to fear, unrest and anxiety, and as a result, people are beginning to shun hospitals and resorting to self-medication and further spreading the virus.
For every fake mews look at it from a peace journalism angle, and research on the fake news and offer a counter-narrative report bringing out the truth
A local media in Uganda recently reported that a man was shot dead in Entebbe when he tried to run away after testing positive of the virus. Of course, this was a complete lie and a typical example of fake news destroying the beautiful journalism profession.
My sister called me at about 8:00pm in the evening and said “Hey. I just heard on radio right now that a man who tested positive in Entebbe and tried to run away has been short dead”.
I told my sister to either desist from believing in fake news or she would die of Corona stress.
The social media was awash with misinformation that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni had scrapped off payment of property rent. See link.
Then the alarming fake news about lions on the streets of Russia to assist the government keep its citizens home. Can lion live for long on the streets? https://komonews.com/news/coronavirus/500-lions-roaming-the-streets-coronavirus-fuels-torrent-of-falsehoods-on-social-media
There is no media effort to debunk fake news which is causing trauma and unrest among citizens
In a post, Ugandan government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo recently expressed his dismay over media and experts offering false narrative ‘that Uganda government, either doesn’t care about its people in China or is so incompetent in managing epidemics like the coronavirus.
It is true that efforts by Uganda media to do more is limited with the poor remuneration of journalists who in most case risk their lives and get nothing at the end of the month. Most media organizations, on the other hand, do not provide proper safety for their reporters, hence exposing journalists to contracting the disease or getting injured.
Therefore, the media all over the world need to collectively lobby and demand for proper pay and protection especially the journalists reporting in high risky situations.
“I believe that a well-paid and well-protected media personnel can lead to a more professional media team and collectively offering counter-narratives to debunk fake news in order to save the world by preventing a bad situation from getting worse”
Overall, the media in Uganda is doing its best in reporting the Corona Virus and its impact on society.
Together as the media let us debunk fake news and save the world without compromising the principles of good journalism.
Gloria Laker Adiiki Aciro is a Ugandan Journalist. She is also a peace journalism activist involved in supporting refugees. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @GloriaLaker, . @OnlineRefugee
By European Journalism Observatory and Otto Brenner Stiftung
European Journalism Observatory and Otto Brenner Stiftung present pilot analysis
How do media across Europe cover migrants and refugees?
A comparative study conducted in 17 countries reveals blind spots – and different narratives.
Five years after the start of the “European refugee crisis”, migration controversies have deeply affected political landscapes across the EU, and no “European solutions” have yet been found. A new study by the European Journalism Observatory (EJO) now sheds light on the media’s role in the migration debate: According to EJO’s comparative analysis, media tell different stories about migrants and refugees in every country. Sharp divides in quantity and quality of coverage are not only visible between Western and Central Eastern Europe, but even within Western Europe. The study also reveals many blind spots in the coverage of migrants and refugees.
The EJO, a network of 12 journalism institutes across Europe, analyzed coverage of migrants and refugees in 17 countries. The study has retrieved 2417 articles for six selected study weeks between August 2015 and March 2018. It is the first international project to compare coverage of migrants and refugees across so many different political systems, media systems, and journalistic cultures. Details of the study, graphs, and a full-length report are available on the EJO website and on the website of Otto Brenner Stiftung, who co-funded the study.
With currently 1.1 mio. refugees (according to UNHCR data for 2019), Germany has emerged from the “European refugee crisis” as one of the world’s top five host countries for refugees, along with Uganda, Pakistan, Turkey, and Sudan. According to our study, this unique position has resulted in a specific “German perspective” on the topic: The sheer quantity of coverage in Germany far outstrips that of almost all other countries in the study– and is only paralleled by Hungary, whose prime minister Viktor Orbán has positioned himself as an opponent of German chancellor Angela Merkel with regard toasylum policy.
The study also reveals fundamentally different patterns of coverage between Germany, Italy and Greece and all the other EU countries in our sample. In Germany, Italy and Greece, migrants and refugees are presented as domestic topics, reflecting the fact that these countries are primarily destinations of migrants and refugees. However, the media in all other EU countries in our sample treat the topic predominantly as a foreign affairs issue – events related to migration take place far away from home, beyond the domestic borders. Media in France, the UK and Hungary emphasize the prominent role of their leaders in international policy-making. Germans, in particular, might be surprised to learn that there seems to be little public pressure in other countries to find a “European solution” to the regulation of asylum procedures.
The study also finds stark differences in the tone of coverage in different countries. In general, media in Central and Eastern Europe focus more on problems experienced with and protests against, migrants and refugees. Media in Western European emphasize the situation of migrants and refugees, and the help provided to them. Western European media in our sample also quoted many more (non-migrant) speakers with positive attitudes towards migrants and refugees than media in Central and Eastern Europe. A patternalso emerges when we contrast data for left-liberal media and media with a more conservative profile: Liberal-left media quoted more speakers with a positive attitude and reported considerably more on help for and the situation of migrants and refugees.
Media also report on immigration from different parts of the world. Africa is the main point of reference in Italy and to some extent in France. While all other countries in Western Europe focus on immigration from the Middle East, the Italian newspaper La Stampa did not publish a single article focusing on migrants or refugees from the Middle East.For media in Russia, Poland, Belarus and Ukraine, migration and refugee flows from Ukraine were also a major topic.
One of the main problems identified in our study is that media across Europe do not make clear to their audiences the background and legal status of people seeking to enter Europe as a migrant or refugee. Coverage is dominated by political debates and political actors (45%), leaving almost no room (4% of the articles) for coverage of economic, cultural, historic, and other background information.Only a third of the articles (33%) makes clear the distinction between refugees, who have a protected legal status, and migrants,who leave their countries of origin for economic, social, educational and other reasons. Most articles (60%)confusemigrants and refugees or remain unclear.Do they do this out of ignorance? Because national politicians use ambiguous wording? Because journalists assume their audiences don’t know the difference – or because they lack the time and space to be more specific? Our study cannot throw light on the reasons; however, media also remain vague about the countries of origin of migrants and refugees. Only 778 out of the 2,417 articles retrieved for the study weeks specify where people come from – 293 articles mention Syria, the others “Africa” (64), Myanmar (30), Albania and Ukraine (18 each),and Afghanistan (16).But there is change over time: In the earlier weeks of our analysis, the Middle East as an origin is particularly in focus, and where people are clearly identified, it is mostly as “refugees”; in later weeks, we increasingly find people identified as “migrants”.However, the share of articles that do not identify the people presented as either refugees or migrants remains high throughout our period of analysis.
Asking migrants and refugees about their background and motives might help, but migrants and refugees tend to be the silent by-standers of migration coverage. While 26.6% of articles actually feature migrants and refugees as main actors, 18% cover them only as large, anonymous groups. A mere 8% of the articles feature migrants and refugees as individuals or families – while citizens and civil society actors in destination countries are main actors in 18% of the articles. And very few of migrants and refugees featured in the articles are also quoted: Media quoted 411 migrant speakers and 4,267 non-migrant speakers. While helpers are individualized, those receiving help are not.As found in previous studies, coverage also over-represents male (and also underage)migrants and refugees at the expense of adult females.
With regard to the representation of migrants and refugees, European media might learn from the United States, which was part of our sample as well. While TheWashington Post focused mainly on immigration from Central America in the study period, The New York Timestook more of a global perspective and focused on the “European refugee crisis”. US articles featured a particularly high number of individual migrants and refugees, who were also quoted – probably as a result of the Anglo-Saxon reporting traditions and a code of ethics (by the Society of Professional Journalists)that stipulates to “give voice to the voiceless”.In Europe, the Spanish media come closest to this interest in the perspective of migrants and refugees.
However, the study also shows that public debate around the issue in other countries is often far from being as one-sided as is often assumed. We also compared the percentage of speakers quoted who had positive attitudes towards migrants and refugees with the percentage of speakers quoted who had negative attitudes. Indeed, in almost all countries covered by this study, the two media outlets in our sample offered contrary positions. We conclude from these results that more diverse – or at least less black and white – approaches towards migration issues can be found in the media of each country. Also the Hungarian media, for example, offer a more varied picture than one might expect. Magyar Hírlap, closely aligned with the Orbán government, does not quote a single migrant or refugee in its articles in all six study weeks. But on the independent news portal index.hu, the situation of migrants and refugees receives more attention, and at least some migrant speakers are quoted.
By Ruth Atim
“Trauma in children is horrible especially if you were like me who witnessed her parents being hacked to death and had to run into the bush with my 4 year old brother, but am happy that I have overcome it and moved on” Adior narrates her ordeal.
Adior chuol is a 15year girl who has gone through harsh episodes of trauma and depression, after fleeing from the south Sudan war across to Uganda and got resettled in a refugee camp in Uganda. Without parental love and protection, Adior was exposed to stress coupled with severe depression and does not remember ever being safe as she kept replaying in her mind how her parents were hacked to death as she watched helplessly in her hideout with her sibling. As far as she remembers, she never experienced a childhood. Never sleeping a full night, and deeply depressed with severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress, and forcing her to attempt to kill herself several times.
This is one among the many stories that refugee children experience, let alone trekking for days on an empty stomach to reach their destination unaccompanied by any adult. Adior was lucky to be matched up with a foster family that took her in and now lives a normal life with her new found family.
To date Adior doesn’t know why she had to leave her home.
“I still don’t understand why they had to make us children suffer because of their disagreements, one of my friends fell sick and disappeared in the bush while we were escaping, I don’t know if she is alive or not, I may never see her again” Adior recalls with tears in her eyes.
Dralero Joseline, a community services officer working in the office of the Prime Minister, Adjumani refugee operations says trauma in refugee children has affected how they live as children as most of them always have sleeplessness, regressive behavior, social withdrawal and violent or self-destructive outbursts. Many keep comparing the life in resettlement areas to the ones they had back home and this even stresses them the more.
She adds that its worse with children who live with foster parents and those who are unaccompanied i.e. children who came to the resettlement camps without any parent or relative.
46 year old malik maliti is a foster parent to 3 children whom she met on her way to seek refugee in Uganda. She says her experience hasn’t been easy as she lost 3 of her children to gunshot wounds sustained during a gunfire exchange.
“I have decided to take care of these children as my own because mine are all gone. It was difficult at the beginning because they are from different backgrounds and would experience nightmares that one almost stabbed me, yet he was the most quite one. I think it was trauma” Maliik narrates.
She adds that humanitarian organizations have helped her deal with the “weird” behavior of her new children.
“Ever since we started attending Trauma treatment sessions together with my children, our relationship has improved, the nightmares have reduced and their energy levels have gone up because their interest in school and church has also improved” Malii Adds.
I had a one on one with Kier, one of Malii’s foster children. He was 9 when he became a refugee. Kier says he’s niece was hit by a stray bullet and died on spot. He separated with his parents and has never seen them to date.
Kier says, he and some other children who suffer from depression and trauma are not happy, because they face stigma and are blamed for any wrong doings.
“ Its even worse with some of our trauma treatment sessions as its always gazetted, now every community member gets to find out that we have trauma, and I feel embarrassed about it. I want them not to isolate us during these sessions so that we don’t feel different” Kier explains.
Kier hopes to go back home after the war and look for his parents and rebuild the sense of family, which was taken from him so long ago.
Joseline says that just like Kier, many unaccompanied traumatized children are required to stay with an adult until the reach 18years after which the Office of the Prime minister will allocate for them land so they can start their own independent life.
Kier says being a refugee and having experienced all these atrocities is not good because it brings bad memories, which affects our growth.
“When I grow up, I want to be a counselor, so that I can help many children who are experiencing trauma so that they can forget what happened to them and enjoy their childhood. I also want to help them heal and recover” he adds.
Emmanuel is the director of development and innovation at Transcultural Psychosocial organization (TPO) an organization that has been at the forefront in fighting trauma in refugee children. He said many refugee children with symptoms of trauma and depression are referred to them. After screening to see if they have such symptoms, they use therapies, behavior cognitive therapy for children and the journey of life to help children to process their life journey and their hopes and aspirations for the future. He said this has helped many children let go off the bad memories and look forward to the bright future ahead of them.
Some of the refugee children playing outside their home at Bidi Bidi resettlement camp. (image: Ruth Atim)
From the above stories, its evident that more and more refugee children continue to live in fear due to the traumatic experiences they underwent and this calls for the need for on continued trauma counseling.
A source from south Sudan that preferred anonymity said the government of South Sudan has no policies in place to carter for these traumatized children.
“Even the psychosocial for it ‘s citizens let alone children is lacking in the government hospitals which could have been the first attempt in helping citizens including children with trauma and psychosocial needs”. The source adds.
But the million-dollar question is. Does the government of south Sudan know the implication of not having such policies in place?
Also, have they thought of incorporating trauma in children even when they are discussing peace processes and everything?
Recent rounds of violence in South Sudan can be traced from 2013 when Salva Kiir dismissed his vice president Riek Machar from office after Machar openly expressed his intention to challenge Kiir’s leadership. This resulted in a bloody civil war that has cost the lives of an estimated 300,000 civilians over the past five years in a nation of 12.3 million people according to UNHCR.
Following a spate of fighting, over 1.4 million South Sudanese fled and registered as refugees in Uganda. Sadly, 63 percent of South them are under the age of 18 and many had witnessed atrocities.
They are survivors of violent attacks, sexual assault and, in many cases, children who travel alone.
There are more than 1.4 million refugees from seven African countries in Uganda. All of them face numerous challenges: lack of accommodation or food, language barriers and cultural shock as well as limited access to health care and work. However, refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), who are the second-biggest group of refugees in Uganda, tend to have more employment opportunities than others because of their skills.
All over Africa, Congolese are known as excellent hairdressers, designers, guitarists and singers. Additionally, most of them know many different languages. These skills have made Congolese refugees stand out. They contribute a lot to Uganda’s struggling economy and provide services at much lower rates than the locals.
For instance, 33-year-old Moise Mbulula took refuge in Uganda eight years ago. It took him less than a month to get a job as language teacher at the Alliance française, a French school in Kampala. Now, he gets one assignment after the other. His language skills – English, French and Kiswahili – cut across the majority of the east African communities and the Great Lakes region. He is often invited to interpret at cross-cultural events; he translates documents from French to English or vice versa and teaches at several Ugandan schools. Besides, Mbulula is a journalist and an administrator at the Congolese-founded church “La Gloire” in Kampala.