By Jeff Andrew Lule and Dennis Dibele
Refugee women and children in different settlements around the country, continue to be exposed to sexual abuse, allegedly by some humanitarian service providers and security officials.
The country director, Pan African Development Education and Advocacy Programme (PADEAP), Michael Mafabi said they have consistently received cases of sexual exploitation in the camps.
Mafabi disclosed this at the refugees’ workshop to mark Gender Based Violence (GBV) day at their offices in Kabalagala, Kampala.
He said in their survey conducted in 2012 in different refugee settlements, about 70% of the women experienced one form of violence, with about 45% of them being sexually abused.
“Women are more affected within their families and authorities in the camps. They are beaten and sexually harassed. There is even an increasing number of boys being used in the camps,” Mafabi added.
The most affected victims are girls aged between 14 and 25. He said most of the children boys are orphans.
Mafabi said many cases of sexual abuse go unreported because of fear by the victims since the culprits are the same people providing relief.
The PADEAP programme’s coordinator, Peter Kibathi, said even refugees in urban settlements are harassed by security personnel and local authorities.
“When some of these people go to report their cases they are in turn harassed in exchange of services. It is one reason many opt for repatriation to other countries,” he added.
He said service providers don’t care about GBV among the refugees. He added that culture and religion among refugees has led to more abuses in refugees home.
“Some women and men fear to say anything to avoid being embarrassed”.
They called an urgent remedial action to strengthen the protection of women and children in the camps.
According to statistics from the Office if the Prime Minister (OPM), Uganda hosts OVER 234,000 refugee and of these 65 percent from Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan.