KAMPALA – At least 60 refugees committed suicide in settlement camps across Uganda last year; United Nations Agency – UNHCR revealed in a report.
The report names Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement in Kamwenge district to have recorded the highest number of suicides with 12 cases as Bidibidi in Yumbe district registered 11 incidents. Adjuman and Kyangwali Refugee Settlement camps both tied at seven cases.
Oruchinga Refugee Settlement in Isingiro district and Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement camps recorded the least number of a case each as Palabek refugee settlement in Lamwo district had two cases.
Nakivale refugee settlement recorded four cases, Kyaka II had five cases while Rhino camp, Paloringa, and Imvepi refugee settlements registered three death cases each.
Racheal Kisakye Tukahiirwa – the Mental health and psychosocial support supervisor at TPO Uganda, the implementing partner delivering mental health and psychosocial support for refugees in Uganda said that the incidents of suicide and death in the refugee settlement are a frightening reality. She said some of the death cases due to suicide occurred amongst children.
According to the report, family disagreements and domestic violence has been identified as the leading triggers of suicides. Others are substance abuse, lack of basic needs, abandonment by the spouse, and community stigmatization.
Elias Wundagu, a South Sudanese refugee in Bidibidi settlement in Yumbe district noted that there was a need to address inadequacies in the provision of psychosocial support for refugees.
“This practice of refugees committing suicide is common here. There is a need to expand the provision of psychosocial support and counselling for refugees,” he said.
Scovia Amani, another refugee in Rhino camp refugee settlement explains that the hard economic situation amidst reduced food rations is one of the driving forces for the high incidents of suicide deaths among the refugees.
“The cost of leaving is high this time. Even the food rations have since reduced which has complicated life for some refugees,” she noted.
The report further indicates that the highest number of death by suicide occurred amongst male refugees representing 67 per cent compared to 33 per cent of death by suicide among female refugees. According to the report hanging by a rope, poison and drug overdose are the leading methods used by the victims of suicide in the settlements.
Josephine Angucia, the Police spokesperson for the West Nile region cautioned the refugees and host community members against taking their own lives.
According to the latest Refugee Statistics by UNHCR as of December 31, 2022, Uganda hosts 1,495,688 refugees and asylum seekers.