Gender and Protection: A PLUS for refugee women and girls in Kiryandongo
Story by Susan Achiro | Gender & Protection Officer – Kiryandongo Refugee Response
Jenti, 21 is a refugee in Kiryandongo refugee settlement. She has lived in the settlement since her arrival in 2016
“When war erupted in South Sudan, I followed my friend who was also my neighbor through to Uganda. We were registered on the same attestation and given the same plot of land. Our stay together helped us heal and recover faster from the past pains.”
Jenti had traveled with both her 4 year old daughter and a younger brother while her friend had 3 Children who are now all grown up. They were happy together, then came a startling disclosure, which, with her permission, I am able to share.
“My friend started having an affair with my younger brother”, Jenti says. “I couldn’t take it lightly, we disagreed and she chased me out of home.”
Jenti moved out of home with her daughter to a makeshift shelter in the neighborhood. But she could not access food assistance from AFI because the documents to show eligibility (attestation and the ration cards) remained with her friend after the separation.
“Each time she collected food from the distribution point, I asked her for my share but she refused to share the food. She quarreled all the time and made my life difficult.”
Jenti decided to go to the nearby police post in the village to file a case. But her friend failed to honor the police summon.
“I saw my hope of collecting food deeming. My neighbor encouraged me to visit the AFI protection desk at the Food Distribution point so that I could be assisted.”, Jenti recalls.When I arrived there, I explained my predicament and the ushers waited for my friend. She was invited to the protection desk and the protection officer talked at length with us.”
Mediation was done between Jenti and her friend and both reconciled and agreed to split food ration for the next two months (according family sizes) while AFI works in coordination with WFP, UNHCR and OPM to split the attestation.
“When my documents finally arrived I was so happy. I started receiving my own food and left the conflict between me and my friend in the past.”
Jenti is just one of the many refugee women benefiting from the AFI gender mainstreaming at the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement. Every Month the protection desk receives more than ten cases with 99% of concerns reported by women.
General food assistance (GFA) project is implemented by Andre Foods International (AFI) in partnership with United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP) in Rhino Camp and Kiryandongo Refugee Settlements. Over 150,000 refugees currently receive either food items or cash vouchers to enable them access food for their households.
AFI gender and protection team regularly conduct training sessions with the Refugee Welfare Committee leaders, food/cash distribution volunteers and selected village ambassadors in attempt to build capacity in case identification, case management and case referral. The training also equips the local leaders with capacity to monitor or follow up cases at the community level.
Several follow up visits were conducted by the AFI Protection team in company of the refugee welfare committees (RWCs) to assess the progress of the reconciliation between Jenti and her friend.