Uganda: Child Protection Assessment in Refugee Hosting Districts (May 2022) – Uganda



Main conclusions


  • The risks that refugee and host community children were most often reported to be concerned about in the past three months were child labour, physical violence and child marriage.

  • The top three risks that refugees and host community caregivers said they had witnessed in their communities over the past three months were child labour, child marriage and physical violence.

  • Caregivers surveyed reported an increase in several child protection risks in their communities during the time of COVID-19. In particular, these risks include children engaged in arduous and dangerous work, substance or alcohol abuse among caregivers and children, and sexual violence against children.

Child labor

  • In addition to reports of child labor, reports of arduous and hazardous work have increased since the start of the COVID-19 period.

  • There are only slight regional differences in the reported prevalence of child labor and these regional differences are only present among the refugee community.

  • Reports show that adolescents (children aged 12 to 17) are most likely to be affected.

  • The causes of the increase in child labor linked to COVID-19 are economic and socio-economic (e.g. loss of household income) and non-engagement of children due to the long duration of closures. schools from March 2020 to January 2022.

Child Abuse (VAC)

  • The proportion of caregivers reporting that ECV occurs in their household is roughly similar in refugee and host communities.

  • Among caregivers, reports of ACC are more common in the West Nile region than in southwestern Uganda.

  • Physical abuse and verbal abuse are the two most frequently reported types of abuse.

  • Caregivers report that girls are more likely to be affected than boys.

  • The top three causes of CCA reported by caregivers are drug and alcohol abuse in adults, resource conflict, and high stress in adults.

Sexual violence, child marriage and teen pregnancy

  • Rates of sexual violence reported by caregivers are similar in refugee and host communities.

  • Rates of sexual violence reported by caregivers do not vary regionally, but are slightly more frequently reported by refugee caregivers in Imvepi, Kiryandongo and Rhino Camp.

  • The five most commonly reported places where sexual violence occurs are all public places, including firewood collection areas, the market, and areas inside and outside the community.

  • The three most common causes of sexual violence reported by caregivers are COVID-19 restrictions, lack of law enforcement, and socioeconomic conditions.

  • The qualitative data reinforce findings from secondary sources indicating an increase in child marriages and teenage pregnancies during the COVID-19 period.

Psychological distress

  • Almost two-fifths of caregivers said they had observed primarily negative behavioral changes in the children in their care during the COVID-19 period and almost a third of children in each community said the same about of their caregivers.

  • Negative behavioral changes were more frequently reported in the West Nile region.

  • Causes of psychological distress were reported to most often take the form of lack of food, extra work for children, and children’s inability to return to school.

Unaccompanied and Separated Children (UASC)

  • Separations were more frequently reported within the refugee community, likely due to the increased risk of separation during flight or resettlement.

  • Separations were more frequently reported in the West Nile region than in the southwest.

  • The UASC data indicate that caregivers may have under-reported this risk, possibly due to a lack of clarity around terminology among respondents.

  • The most commonly reported cause of separation in both communities was the death or illness of the caregiver.

Service delivery and barriers to access

  • On average, host community respondents reported much lower availability of services than refugee respondents.

  • The availability of child protection services as reported by refugees in Kampala is very low.

  • Service delivery is said to be lower on average in the South West compared to the West Nile region.

  • NGO, government and police staff working in the child protection sector have reported that COVID-19 has impacted their ability to deliver services and simultaneously resulted in a decrease in the availability of funds , further increasing pressure on already limited resources.

  • Service providers reported both limited staff availability and capacity in the child protection sector.


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