Photo: Save the Children
Uganda has the highest proportion of AIDS orphans worldwide. The two-decade long conflict in northern Uganda has displaced over1.8 million people and led to the abduction of more than 60,000 children.
The situation of war-affected children and youth in the northern region of Uganda is dire, and little has been done to address their special needs. Some improvements were seen after the current administration introduced free universal primary education in the country in 1996, in the context of northern Uganda, as a way to equalise opportunities, greatly increasing gross enrolment in primary schools. In chronically food-insecure northeastern Uganda, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) runs school feeding programmes to encourage attendance.
Years of brutal conflict and violence in northern Uganda have had a devastating impact on child wellbeing. The Lord´s Resistance Army (LRA) has abducted more than 25, 000 children since the conflict started in 1987, for use as soldiers, sex slaves and domestic workers. Up to 2000 women and children remained with the opposition LRA in late 2007.1 In Uganda, it has been proven that orphans most often come into contact with the law. In Eastern and Central Africa, the judicial systems are weak and underfunded and as a result, children who come into contact with the legal system rarely receive fair and humane treatment.
About 20,000 babies annually acquire HIV through mother-to-child transmission. Up to 150,000 children between 0 and 14 years currently live with HIV. Nearly half of the country’s estimated two million orphans are children of AIDS parents.2
Working children are a common sight in Uganda, where around 2,7 million children work for a living. Half of these children are between 10 and 14 years old.3 A study conducted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 2004, concludes that an estimated 7, 000 to 12, 000 children in Uganda are affected by commercial sexual exploitation.4