KAMPALA – The high rate at which adolescents at Bidibidi Refugee Camp in Yumbe district pick pregnancies has thrown the settlement’s partners into a panic mood.
According to a statement from the International Rescue Committee – IRC and health implementing partners in the settlement, at least 1,400 girls become pregnant, annually at this particular camp – a condition that has dire consequences for the well-being of the teenagers.
“……As the world marks the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, the IRC warns of the effects of early pregnancy and sexual exploitation on the wellbeing of adolescent girls in emergency situations,” reads the statement in parts.
IRC records indicate that over 4,000 girls under the age of 18 reported for their first Antenatal Care – ANC visit at various health facilities in Bidibidi Refugee camp between January 2020 and September 2022.
The report adds that nearly 2,000 teenage deliveries were recorded at the various health facilities within the Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement, during the same period.
Elijah Okeyo -the IRC Country Director attributes the high burden of teenage pregnancies in the settlement to neglect of critical sectors and social services like education and child protection during the Covid -19 induced lockdown.
“With all focus drawn to (wards) the Covid-19 response and now the Ebola outbreak in Uganda, some sectors and social services have been deprioritised.
“It is high time attention is brought back to key sectors such as education, child protection, and sexual health and rights information and services for young girls and boys,” he said.
Alli Drasi – the Yumbe district social services secretary said that there was a need for concerted efforts by the key stakeholders to tackle the vice of teenage pregnancy in the refugee settlement.
Bidibidi Refugee camp, according to UNHCR, is the biggest settlement in the world – housing 193,156 immigrants, mainly from neighbouring South Sudan and DR Congo.