Refugees In Uganda Being Sensitized On Family Planning

Last week, the UNHCR released a report putting Bidi-bidi camp in West Nile Uganda as the most populated settlement with refugees numbering over 276,710 followed by Palorinya camp in Moyo district with 174,702.

Refugees In Uganda Being Sensitized On Family Planning
Women of Palorinya Camp in Uganda being sensitized on family planning [photo credit|ICETA]

 By Paul Night

WEST NILE, 18 December 2017 [Gurtong]-Humanitarian organizations like WFP, UNHCR and many others continue to struggling keeping these refugees alive on a hugely underfunded budget with so much suffering amongst the women given the daily struggle to find food for their many children.

Martina Azireo, the Secretary for Social Services and Refugees Affairs said that the population of the refugees in the district is bigger than the local community of whom majority of women in refugee camps fear to use any method of birth control or family planning since their husbands are against it due to their cultural beliefs.

“Some women are surviving with more than five children and they cannot afford school fees, food, clothes because they are not working. Some may end up developing complications in their uterus while giving birth and so they shouldn’t risk their lives again and again,” said Azireo.
Mary Immaculate Poni 36, a mother of seven children said, “My husband is also not working. We agreed to have tubal ligation as the best option, with minimal side effects, for us to control the high birth rate and get enough time for digging to grow food for our children and school fees.”
Mary Immaculate said that her last born is now two months old.  She has seven children.

Milly Akello, a nursing officer at Itula health center III, said on average about 80 babies are delivered monthly at the health centers in the camps of Moyo.
“We got 86 deliveries at Idiwa Zone and Morobi Zones yet we are only four midwives. Sometimes we can’t manage when a big number of women come to the facility to deliver at the same time. At Belamenling camp, about 18 babies were delivered. Moyo district has more than seven large camps but there are also other [smaller] camps where more than 20 babies were born. Seeing some hope now that, with constant sensitization about family planning, refugee women have started accepting birth control. Majority of these women were married off at the tender age of 13, which partly explains why the fertility rate is so high. They depend on refugee food aid which is not enough and sometimes when they get it, they sell it to get money to buy other things like soap, clothes and also pay school fees,” Akello said.

Doctors at Moyo Hospital have requested Medical Team International (MTI) to introduce public access to condoms in communities to reduce on sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

“To encourage them to use family planning and fight misconceptions against it, we had to change our package of message sensitization from women and encourage more men to attend and also use kind words like child spacing” said one of the doctors.

According to Richard Kamushiga, a Reproductive Health officer of Medical Team International attached to  Idiwa Health Centre III an average of 4,000 refugees have crossed the borders from South Sudan into Uganda.

UNHCR statistics released in August 2017 shows that 51% of South Sudanese refugees are in Uganda and they now total over 1 million of whom 82%  of them are women and children, 61% under the age of 18.

Humanitarian agencies continue to make calls for funding following the solidarity summit in kampala this year. Health cases, hunger situations continue to be a concern on daily basis in almost all the settlements around the country with food ratio being cut to a half in order to serve families equally.


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