Civil Society Organisations under Children at Risk Action Network (CRANE) have revealed that there has been a growing number of abandoned children during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
This according to the girl child activists is as a result of the skyrocketing numbers of teenage pregnancy in the country.
The 2016 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) indicated that about 28 percent of girls between age of 15 and 19 were pregnant and this number has since increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown which has left many girls sexually abused.
Speaking during the a press dialogue, the Executive Director, Sanyu Babies Home, Barbra Nankya Mutagubya said that as an organization that takes care of babies they are equally affected by the rise in teenage pregnancies as these contributed to the biggest number of babies under their care.
“Some of the cases are incest by close relatives, unfortunately in Uganda many families still reject girls who get pregnant and see them as outcasts; after chasing them, they end up on the streets with some good Samaritans who may not be willing to take care of them with their babies after birth who end up abandoning them,” Nankya said.
Nankya noted that during the lockdown, the numbers of babies being abandoned increased which took them by surprise having thought that people would settle and take care of their babies.
“The numbers went on the rise, from end of March to end of September, we have received 30 new babies in our care yet we are just a small baby’s home with a capacity of handling only 50 babies at a time,” Nankya noted.
Nankya observed that on addition to that, they have kept on receiving phone calls from several probation officers but have turned down a number of these calls due to lack of capacity to handle the huge numbers.
“In December, it will be exactly 9 months from the time the lockdown commenced, and we know that the number of children that will be abandoned is going to increase if we don’t play our part in protecting the teenage mothers and the children in our families,” Nankya noted.
CRANE Executive Director, Faith Kembabazi called upon all stakeholders to ensure that they open up their families to these pregnant girls and not condemn them to eternal life of suffering.
“When the girl has been defiled, abused and she’s now pregnant, this should not be the end of her life and future; we would like her to have better health care in hospitals, better education services allowing her to study and sit for her examinations like any other candidates,” Kembabazi said.
Kembabazi noted that it is unfortunate that home was thought to be for the children but it has turned out not be safe given the fact that the abusers are so close to the girls.
As parents and families, let’s accept the young girls that have got pregnant, support them and their babies so that they don’t abandon them on garbage heaps.