27th February 2021
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Cases of defilement on the rise among refugees in Bidi Bidi camp

Authors: Ayite Susan | Charles Wote | Published: Saturday, February 13, 2021

Bidi Bidi Refugee settlement in Uganda. Credit | Courtesy

Some South Sudanese at Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in Uganda have expressed concerns over what they describe as an increase in cases of defilement in the camp.

Statistics show that over “the last 5 months, 400 girls under the age of 17 have been defiled.”

Women say young girls and women are being sexually abused by fellow refugee men.

“A man of 25 defiling a girl of 14 years,” a zonal leader, Moses Wenga said.

One of the mothers whose 14-year-old daughter was allegedly defiled says the majority of the girls are being abused while collecting water and firewood in the bushes.

“I felt like going back to South Sudan because really it’s not secure here. If I am here for refuge and my daughter is being defiled, what is the essence of me being here?” Awate Joice asked.

She said access to water sources is often challenging, forcing women and girls to go far distances to fetch from the streams.

Awate added that that most of the perpetrators cross into South Sudan to escape arrests.

“I was scared. I thought she conceived and yet this guy ran away. If my daughter is pregnant what will I do?”

“Right now we have stopped our daughters from collecting firewood and even going to the market late in the evening,” Awate stated.

For his part, the Refugee Welfare Council of Zone three at Bidi Bidi acknowledged that the cases are widespread in the camp.

Moses Wenga said they are working closely with the Ugandan authorities to ensure those who commit such crimes are held accountable.

“We shall not leave that person whether a girl defile a boy. We shall also follow because there are some girls who defile boys.’’

The West Nile Police spokesperson, Josephine Angucia told Eye Radio that they carrying out awareness campaigns on the matter, while at the same time enforcing the laws.

“The cases are common at the refugee camps basically because of the conditions under which the refugee stay,” she stated.

“It is a gradual process of sensitizing the refugee’ communities to change their mindsets, to realize that defilement is bad. When we continue to sensitize, penalizing the perpetrators it will surely end.”

Awate, Wenga and Angucia were speaking on a local radio station called ‘Voice of Life’ at Bidi Bidi refugee settlement camp.

Bidi Bidi refugee settlement camp is home to more than 270,000 South Sudanese refugees who fled the war in 2016.

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