A window of hope for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence living in Nakivale Refugee Settlement

English for Adults (EFA): A window of hope for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence living in Nakivale Refugee Settlement

Introduction

While many asylum seekers and refugees have experienced conflict-related sexual violence or torture, few disclose this and access the support they need. Lack of English language skills turns out to be one of the reasons for this, and English for Adults one of the solutions.

Uganda currently hosts the highest number of asylum seekers and refugees in Africa and the third in the world. This is attributed to her liberal refugee policies, security as well as the hospitality of Ugandans. June 2020 statistics from the Office of the Prime Minister indicate that Uganda has over 1,424,373 refugees and asylum seekers.

The majority of refugees are settled in various settlements in rural areas, including Nakivale, and a minority are recognised as urban refugees in the capital city. UNHCR data shows that in 2020 Nakivale, one of the country's oldest refugee settlements, hosted 132,811 refugees (9.3% of the national total).

COVID-19 Lockdown has frustrated Literacy Programmes in Uganda: Observation from the English for Adults Program of The Refugee Law Project

Every 8th September, the world commemorates International Literacy day. This year’s commemorations will be amidst frustrations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In Uganda, the Government-instigated urgent total lockdown from late March onwards called off all activities that gather people - including closure of all educational institutions and centers across the country. In compliance with the directives from the Government and the Ministry of Health, the Refugee Law Project, School of Law, Makerere University immediately suspended all our thirteen English for Adults (EFA) Learning Centers in the rural and urban refugee communities.

English for Adults: A Stepping Stone to Self-Reliance Among Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Nakivale Refugee settlement.

The refugee problem remains a global challenge with over 25.9 & 3.5 million refugees and asylum seekers respectively (António Vitorino, 2020).  Out of which, over 52% are under 18 years of age. This has strained economies of various host countries in the world. Refugees flee from their countries of origin due to conflicts, persecution and disaster to seek refuge in countries they consider to be secure.

Uganda is currently host to 1,411,098 refugees and asylum seekers from different countries in the Great Lakes region (UNHCR, 2020). The majority come from South Sudan (873,741), Democratic Republic of Congo (409,882), Burundi (48,119), Somalia (4,018) and Rwanda (17,383). Other nationalities account for 21,792 refugees and asylum seekers. Many more continue coming with about 199 received daily. They are received by Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) in Uganda and supported by UNHCR in aspects of livelihood, education and protections among others. Despite the support given, that given in the name of livelihoods has been and continues to be insufficient to the perceived needs of asylum seekers and refugees. Therefore, empowering forced migrants to become self-reliant is paramount to supplement on the assistance provided by OPM, UNHCR and other state and non-state actors.

The impact of gender roles on the enrolment in the English for Adult classes

Gender roles present a challenge for the English for Adult (EFA) class enrolment in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement, Kikuube district in Uganda. Women remain less involved in EFA classes because society continues to expect them to attend only to their homes and domestic chores whereas men are seen as the sole bread winners and the heads of families in Kyangwali. This results in a gap between men and women of certain tribes from the refugee community when it comes to accessing services, including English for Adult classes.

Challenges faced by children while accessing justice and enjoying their human rights

The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child defines a child as a person under the age of 18 years.[1] Children are considered vulnerable persons that attract special protection from not only the State and its organs but also from its citizens. The Uganda Refugee Response Plan January 2019-December 2020 indicates that children represent 60% of the refugees and asylum seekers in Uganda. In refugee hosting areas there are many children who have been forced to seek refuge, some along with their parents, others unaccompanied or separated from their parents or guardians. In the process of seeking asylum, some of these children face physical, sexual, gender violence and psychological trauma. What, though, happens to those who enter into conflict with the law? I want to share my own encounters, as a lawyer working with refugees and their hosts, with Uganda’s treatment of children in conflict with the law.

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