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Responding to the Needs of Refugees in Uganda

This article is part of a series featuring inspiring stories of local action #fromthefrontlines of COVID-19 in the Global South. For more, visit our COVID-19 page and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

The global outbreak of COVID-19 has now impacted 214 countries around the world, 134 of which are refugee hosting nations. Refugees are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, as they often live in overcrowded settlement camps or urban centers with limited access to healthcare, clean water, reliable information, or formal state assistance in their host countries.

Today, on World Refugee Day, we’re highlighting the work of Refugee Law Project, a local group in Uganda dedicated to providing asylum seekers, refugees, and internally displaced persons with legal representation, English language classes, health and rights education (including HIV/AIDS prevention), and psychosocial support. Uganda is host to more than 1.4 million refugees, the most of any African nation. An estimated three-quarters of refugees in Uganda have fled a brutal civil war in South Sudan. Many have experienced or witnessed horrific violence, including sexual assault.

Currently, there have been nearly 750 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Uganda. Despite an initial complete lockdown enacted with only hours’ notice, RLP has adapted its work to ensure the basic needs of the refugees they serve are met and their rights are protected.

RLP began by identifying nearly 100 refugee children in need of psychosocial support and whose families were at high risk for hunger. In response, it converted its mental health counseling to telephone services and worked to ensure access to food and water for the families. Since, it has worked to provide critical and accurate information to refugees around how to prevent COVID-19 transmission and developed e-learning and e-counseling plans for many of its core programs. It also carries on providing legal aid to refugees and advocating for their increased access to justice.

While continuing to educate and serve refugees in Uganda during the pandemic, RLP is also finding new ways to elevate their voices, including through the production of “Don’t Let Us Fade Away,’ a music video aimed at driving awareness of COVID-19 in refugee communities. The video and song were created by Rendezvous, a Kampala-based group of urban refugee youth.

The Fund provides RLP with the critical long-term funding and strategic support they need to continue operating through the pandemic and beyond. We proudly stand with them and all organizations protecting the rights, health, and safety of refugees and internally displaced people during COVID-19.

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