Over 3,000 girls got pregnant in West Nile during COVID-19 lockdown

Eastern, Southern Africa loses 70,000 girls to pregnancy related complications

Arua, Uganda | URN | More than three-thousand girls got pregnant in the greater West Nile Region during the COVID-19 lockdown according to statistics from the Education department of the Lugbara Cultural institution.

Suzan Ezatia, the Minister of Education in Lugbara Kari says that their findings indicate that some of the girls were impregnated by their parents and security guards deployed in their homes during COVID-19 lockdown. She says that the cultural institution is already engaging some partners locally and in the diaspora to address the problem.

She explains that the intervention by Lugbara Kari follows a public outcry, especially in child headed families where cases of abuses have occurred.

Harry Erima, the senior project officer for Education ZOA, an NGO that operates in Arua says that they had registered over 750 cases of teenage pregnancies in the greater Arua district as early as November last year. Erima says the problem is worrying and calls for immediate intervention in terms of ensuring privacy among parents, children, boys and girls.

According to Erima, the lockdown of schools compounded by the ongoing dry season in West Nile has rendered many families idle and prone to immorality. He also calls on parents and guardians to execute their roles of counselling children to curb incidents of immorality leading to teenage and unwanted pregnancies.

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Sam Endra, the Community Development Officer Arua says they are still more cases of pregnant girls undocumented in the district. “We are calling upon parents and guardians to report such cases to our office or police and also listen to the messages and talks on radios, because these cases are still ongoing in communities,” said Endra.

However, Micah Avubieng, the Community Liason Officer Arua has urged the communities to promptly report cases of gender based violence and teenage pregnancies to the police for action. According to Avubieng, police is already engaged in continuous community policing to educate and empower communities to fight immorality and criminality.