NGO warns against trafficking children

By Moses Kidandi

Authorities at Dwelling Places an Organization advocating for the rescue, resettlement and rehabilitation with education street connected children have hailed authorities in Soroti district for their vigilance and interception of 13 girls on a bus to Kampala.

According to Maureen Muwonge the Deputy director in charge of children protection at Dwelling Places, such vigilance and responsibility is desired across the country because child trafficking for street begging and sexual exploitation is on the increase across the country.

Muwonge explained that the primary responsibly for protection of children lies with the parents adding that while as most of the children are from Karamojong, all children in the country are prone to child trafficking and calls for extreme vigilance of the public.

An enumeration report by Retrak & ministry of gender (2018) indicates that there are an estimated 15,476 street connected children in 4 major towns of Kampala, Jinja, Mbale and Iganga.

In each of these towns, the native tribes are the dominant on the streets, followed by the Karamojong children. This simply means that in Kampala, the Baganda are the highest on the streets, followed by the Karimojong.

Church, gender ministry merge efforts to save children

The Church of Uganda and the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development have agreed to strengthen their collaboration in programmes that address children’s vulnerability across the country.

This comes at a time when the Church’s Provincial Assembly declared 2019 as a year for children, with focus on protecting children’s rights while nurturing them to grow in a desirable manner and be responsible adults in the future.

While meeting a delegation from the Church at the ministry headquarters on Wednesday, the Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs, Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi, announced that the Church of Uganda would lead this year’s Day of the African Child celebrations.
The Day is commemorated on 16th June to raise awareness on issues affecting children in general and particularly vulnerable children.

It’s history is rooted in the June 16, 1976 students match from Soweto, South Africa. They were shot by security forces while marching as a way to demonstrate their disapproval of the Black Education Act, which segregated students based on their race.
Nakiwala noted that the Government was happy anti work with the Church of Uganda since its congregation is made up of one-third of children.

“It’s therefore pleasant to partner with an institution that first of all has the means of mass mobilization but also the numbers to cause change,” Nakiwala said.
She also handed church representatives copies of the current regime of laws and regulations on children.

The Children’s Ministry Coordinator at the Church of Uganda, Rev Richard Rukundo, said their strategy was to involve all organs of the church like Mothers Union, Father’s Union, Young Marrieds Fellowship, Home Cells, Christian Women’s Fellowships, Prayer and Intercession groups in establishing and leading Children’s Ministry in the Church and Family.
“We have a Roadmap whose purpose is to position the child at the center of all Ministry activities through multiple approaches. We are engaging every child in the Family, Schools, Church, Community and country at large,” Rukundo noted.
He revealed that their choice of focus was informed by Bible teachings which proclaim children as gifts from the Lord and fruit of the womb.
“In Western countries, they have realized that the problems they have of liberalism and loss of faith are mainly because there was a time when they stopped sending their children to Church and Sunday school. Therefore, Children’s Ministry is very important for the stable growth of the Church and development of a strong generation” he added.

Statistics indicate that 11.3% of children in Uganda are orphans and half of all children are vulnerable. Only 6% are safe in their homes, schools and community. Many families are also categorized as unstable and poor. Some children are separated from one or both parents due to domestic violence, abuse, alcoholism, HIV/AIDS and other conflicts.

He revealed that the Archbishop, The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, in December 2018, wrote to all Bishops, Clergy, Lay Readers, Christians and People of Uganda communicating about the year of the Child and the deliberate drive to advocate for the welfare of children.

Child rights activists unite to end violence against children

By Edwin Muhumuza

Six of Uganda’s leading child rights organizations on Tuesday launched a joint operation dubbed “Joining Forces” aimed at fast tracking progress on ending violence against children.

Child Fund, Plan International, Save the Children, SOS Childrens’ villages, Terre des Hommes and World Vision have come together to collaborate on initiatives to create child-led solutions through empowering children to understand how to tackle challenges within their communities .

Brechtje Van Lith ,Country Director, Save The Children said, ‘We really want to make sure that children s’ voices are being heard. The national child participation strategy is so important in that respect. It really acknowledges that children should be involved in the mechanisms of both designing and implementing policies.’

The national survey released this year by the ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development with support from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) revealed shocking statistics, indicating that most children have experienced physical violence and more than 90% experienced multiple incidents. Also that violence is wide spread in schools.

As the national survey was released, we once more see how critical issues are of ending violence. We felt that this was a good moment to give it an extra push, to give it more attention and be more  on top of these stake holders to play their part’. Brechtje added.

Olive Lumonya, National Director of the SOS Children Villages notes that these kinds of huge numbers mean a call to action. This would entail working with all existing local government systems and structures to create awareness and more impact.

Linnet Awor, Program Manager, Terres de Hommes said ‘we are one of the six international organizations promoting child protection in Uganda. We are doing this even globally at international level. We decided to join forces at national level.’

This rare event seemingly goes to tell the extent of violence against children and the urgency that it requires.

We are in-putting into the national legal processes whereby we are contributing towards the development of the human sacrifice bill,the childrens act…right now we are doing a countrywide assessment on children rights and we will be working with government especially in regard to the upcoming reporting that countries do on child rights,’Awor reveals.

In 2017,the CEO’s of the worlds six leading child-focused NGOs met and decided to accelerate progress on achieving sustainable Development Goals for children. Focusing on tow key projects;(i)-ending violence against children-a national-level effort in five pilot countries, including Uganda to increase the programme impact and contribute to SDG 16. In Uganda they focused on ending violence against children in schools.(ii)-Child Rights Now!;a national and international advocacy push in up to 20 countries to renew political commitment to children’s rights through implementation of the SDG’s and support for the UN Convention on the rights of the child.

The Joining Forces coalition is piloting an initiative called Plan Z, which creates child-led solutions to help end violence against children. Through this process children in the Plan Z pilot identified the issue of child kidnap for ritual purposes, ransom and murder as one of the worst abuses against children.

Armed groups sexually assaulting young refugees fleeing Congo

By Patricia Osman.
A new assessment by Save the Children has found that 10% of newly arrived children fleeing the Democratic Republic of Congo were defiled during their journey to Uganda and 27% assaulted by armed groups.
Johnson Byamukama, Save the Children’s Emergency Response Director in Uganda says the assessment which interviewed 132 refugee children aged 10-17 about their protection and education needs also found that hunger was the biggest issue facing children on their journey affecting 81% while Sickness affected more than 1 in 2 children at 53%.
Byamukama says a lot more needs to be done as the conflict in DRC is one of the world’s forgotten crises.

Woman jailed for kidnapping minor

By Robert Ssegwa
Police in Buyende district eastern Uganda is holding a woman for allegedly kidnapping a 9 years old girl for ransom.
The suspect Mastula Nangobi a resident of Irapa village in Buyende district is alleged to have picked Fatima Nabaranda from Nabiromba primary school claiming that she was taking her to her parents. It is reported that Nangobi booked a lodge in Kamuli and started calling the victim’s parents demanding for a ransom of shs4m for her release.
The parents are reported to have wired the money through her mobile money and reported a case at police which tracked the number and arrested the suspect.
Patrick Onyango the deputy police spokesperson says the suspect is in police detention waiting to be arraigned before courts of law to face charges of kidnap.

Mother held in hospital for five months for failure to clear hospital bills

A mother who gave birth to twins five months ago is still held hostage at Bishop Ceaser Asili Memorial Hospital in Luweero town over unpaid medical bills.

The mother, identified as Stella Adongo, a resident of Kizito zone in Luweero district, was admitted at the facility on December 21, 2016 and gave birth to twins by caesarean section. She was subsequently billed 495,000 Shillings which she had to clear before she could be discharged from the facility.

However, the 20-year together with her husband Festo Magumba failed to raise the money. The man later disappeared and switched off his mobile phone leaving the mover stranded. Adongo has since remained in the maternity ward where she and her children are surviving on handouts from well-wishers.

Adongo says that the hospital administrators refused to discharge her and she gets daily reminders from the hospital cashier to clear the bill before getting out of the facility.

Adongo was also supposed to undergo another operation three months after delivery. However, the hospital declined to conduct the operation over unpaid bills.

Bishop Ceaser Asili Memorial is Catholic Church founded private hospital based in Luweero town. The facility receives 77 million Shillings annually under the Primary Health Care strategy, which seeks to make health care accessible to all individuals and families in a community.

Paul Mukungu the LC III Chairperson of Luweero Town Council faults the health facility for the inhumane treatment that Adongo has been subjected to over the last five months. He says that there is no reason for the hospital to hold the patient they have access to Primary Health Care funds allocated by the Ministry of Health to address such challenges.

But Sister Ernestine Akullu, the Administrator of Bishop Ceaser Asili Memorial Hospital denied holding the patient. She says that the hospital had hired the husband Festo Magumba as a porter on its construction site to help him raise the money. However, Magumba worked for only one day and disappeared from the site.

Akullu adds that the facility subsequently sought her relatives and advised them to commit to a payment plan but they failed to adhere to the advice.  She says that they have since petitioned FIDA, the Association of Women Lawyers to intervene in the matter and restore hope for the desperate mother.

Stella Adongo met with Festo Magumba in Gulu where he had gone to burn charcoal and relocated with him to Luweero town council to start the family.



Bobi Wine and wife Barbie donate 100 mattresses and beddings to street kids

Ghetto gladiator , Bobi Wine and his wife Barbie spent the better part of their Monday improving livelihoods of unprivileged children in Kifumbira located in Kamwokya a Kampala suburb .

Specioza singer Bobi said he joined his wife’s team known as the caring heart to improve these children’s lives by giving 100 matresses, 100 blankets and 100 mosquito nets . The beneficiaries were street kids who have live in Kamwokya and two children’s homes.

In his Facebook post”

7:57pm and each one of us is heading to a place they call home. To a soft bed we want to retire. Most people around us have no bed to lie on. Today, together with my wife Barbie Kyagulanyiand her #caringheartsteam accompanied by #heartforchildren, we visited the most vulnerable children around us and we took about 100 mattresses 100 blankets and 100 mosquito nets. The beneficiaries included 1. Kyankima home for abandoned children in Kasangati run by a single elderly woman with a big heart, 2. Child focus Uganda in Gayaza home for children and youth with intellectual/ physical disability 3. Save Street children uganda in kamwokya 4.To 15 homes in kifumbira zone in kamwokya. Later on in the afternoon I gave a motivational talk about entrepreneurship to Students of Makerere university in the university Main hall. Creative minds is all we need for the present generation. The little we can do we must do.

Kudos to the Ghetto president for touching these little children’s lives.

Report indicates that 1.7 million children die due to environmental pollution

Second-hand smoke, unsafe water, lack of sanitation and inadequate hygiene kill at least one in four children every year, according to two new reports published by the World Health Organisation-WHO today.

The first report’ Inheriting a Sustainable World: Atlas on Children’s Health and the Environment reveals that a large portion of the most common causes of death among children aged 1 month to 5 years – diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia; are preventable by interventions known to reduce environmental risks, such as access to safe water and clean cooking fuels.

But failure to take appropriate action has resulted into the death of 1.7 million children annually, according to the reports.

WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan says such harmful exposures often start in the mother’s womb increasing the risk of premature birth, an increased risk of pneumonia in childhood, and a lifelong risk of chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

“A polluted environment is a deadly one – particularly for young children,” Dr Chan says in a statement this morning. “Their developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water.”

A companion report, don’t pollute my future! The Impact of the Environment on Children’s Health, shows that up to 570 000 children under 5 years die from respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, attributable to air pollution, and second-hand smoke. Another 361,000 die due to diarrhea, as a result of poor access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene.

The report adds that 270,000 children die during their first month of life from conditions, including prematurity and 200 000 deaths of children die from malaria which could also be prevented through reducing breeding sites of mosquitoes or covering drinking-water storage. A similar number of children die from poisoning, falls, and drowning.

According to the reports, children are equally facing emerging environmental hazards, such as electronic and electrical waste (like old mobile phones) that is improperly recycled, exposing them to toxins which can lead to reduced intelligence, attention deficits, lung damage, and cancer.

There are also increasing rates of asthma in children due to climate change and rising levels of temperatures and carbon dioxide. Children are also exposed to harmful chemicals through food, water, air and products around them.

“A polluted environment results in a heavy toll on the health of our children,” Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health says adding that  improving water quality or using cleaner fuels will result in massive health benefits.





Police rescues two children from kidnap in Kamuli

Kaberamaido Police have rescued two children, a year after their alleged kidnap. They are 4-year-old Amina Nansubuga and her 8-year-old brother, Sharif Kanyike.

The duo was rescued early this week from the home of Margaret Itage and Catherine Imede in Ararak A ward in Kaberamaido town where they have been living for over a year.

Both Itage and Imede are being held at Kaberamaido Central Police Station. Christine Rose Shakina, the officer in charge of the Child and Family Protection Unit at Kaberamaido Central Police Station, says the children were kidnapped from Kamuli district last year.

According to Shakina, the children identify their father as Abdullah Kizito, a resident of Kamuli district. Kanyike explains that they were kidnapped by an unidentified woman and forced into a taxi in Kamuli on their way to school to pick their report cards.

Norah Erengu, the LC I chairperson of Ararak A ward says she received a tip off from residents on how the children were being mistreated and tortured by Itage. Itage told Police that the children were dropped at her home by her sister about a year ago claiming to have adopted them from an orphanage.

Police have preferred charges of child rights abuse, kidnap and abduction against the suspects. Police have also commenced a search for the parents of the minors. Section 126 (b) of the penal code act states that “any person who unlawfully takes another person under the age of eighteen years out of the custody of any of the parents or of any other person having lawful care or charge over that person, commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for seven years.



Moroto teacher suspended over breastfeeding child at school

A female teacher at Child Jesus primary school in Moroto municipality is in trouble for breastfeeding her three- months- old baby at school. Agnes Nate was given a two week’s suspension by the head teacher, Sr. Rosario John Masawe last week.

Her suspension follows a resolution by the school management on February 11, 2017 deterring breastfeeding mothers from keeping their babies at school. According to information obtained from the school, management asked breastfeeding teachers not to bring their babies into the school compound.

Some of the teachers say although management bars them from breastfeeding their children at school, it doesn’t allow them to dash back home and breastfeed them children during break time. A breastfeeding a teacher at the School told URN on condition of anonymity that she is contemplating weaning her seven-month- old baby so as to cope with the new regulations.

She expresses fear for the life of her son, who she says is sickly since he doesn’t breastfeed regularly because of the new school regulation. Another teacher on maternity leave also told URN on condition of anonymity that she is considering quitting her job after learning about the new school policy. She feels the new changes are cruel to her one and half month old baby.

Sr. Rosario John Masawe, the head teacher Child Jesus Primary school, says management arrived at such a decision following an inspection report by health experts, which revealed that the school was vulnerable to infections due to poor hygiene and sanitation from the baby attendants. She however, says mothers can check on their children at home with permission from the school administration.

Samuel Ewangu, the Chairperson Uganda National Teacher’s Union Moroto Central branch, says they are investigating the case and will come up with recommendations after consulting with their top bosses in the region.

Ewangu says such harsh rules from the administration affect the teacher’s concentration in class, which in turn affects performance.

Emma Longoria, the Moroto Labor Officer has condemned the suspension of the teacher and promised to follow up the matter.

The Uganda Policy guidelines on infant and young children feeding 2007, provides the framework for enhancing the nutrition, health, growth and development of infants and young children, as well as strengthening care and support for their parents/caretakers to achieve optimal infant and young child feeding.

Its notes that breastfeeding is a traditional practice in Uganda and the majority of mothers initiate and maintain breastfeeding for long periods. “Under normal circumstances, an infant should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life,” reads the guideline.