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Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa that currently ranks 161 out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index (HDI 2013), rating it as one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world. Uganda has been affected by almost 20 years of insecurity due to attacks from the “Lord’s Resistance Army” (LRA), and welcomed a phase of peace in August 2006. The country continues to work to meet the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, although significant challenges to maternal and child health in Uganda remain.

Communities Without Care in North Uganda

Communities in North Uganda have suffered greatly. The LRA fought and afflicted communities in North Uganda for years and the area, receiving less assistance than other areas, is now the poorest in the nation. Equitable access to health care services for women and children remains a critical concern as the severe violence deprived the population of necessary infrastructure and access to quality health care services.

Refugee crisis in Uganda

Fighting in Uganda’s neighboring countries has pushed over 100,000 refugees into border areas within the last few years. Most recently, conflict in South Sudan.  The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continues to struggle with violence, and families frequently flee into Uganda as various rebel groups grapple with government forces for power. Homes are looted, towns change hands between forces, and both men and women are often raped as a weapon of war

“We ran from too many gunshots that went on throughout the night,” said Bwema Matata, one of the refugees being transported from a border transit camp to Rwamanja refugee camp in Uganda.

“My parents died. My siblings have been killed. So we had to run. We ran to the border,” Matata told AlertNet.

Matata’s story is typical of the thousands of Congolese seeking refuge from the violence in their country. Most of the refugees are women and children, and many of the women are pregnant.

In addition to the more than 26,000 Congolese refugees who have already crossed the Ugandan border to escape the conflict, there is an estimated 9,000 more people waiting to get into Uganda for safety. The rebel violence continues to intensify, sending government forces fleeing and displacing more vulnerable people from
MTI staff treats a South Sudanese refugee child in Adjumani in Northern Uganda.