'Forced Migration' in Karamoja Uganda
12 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2008
Date Written: December 12, 2008
This paper is a desk-top exploratory literature review examining the historical, military, cultural, political, economic and social push factors that explain the current conditions and movement of people within and without the Karamoja region of Uganda. The Karamoja sub region is located in the northeastern part of Uganda bordering the Republic of Kenya and Sudan.
Karamoja is one of the most conflict-prone zones of Uganda because it experiences recurrent widespread cattle rustling, lawlessness, criminality, banditry and generalized insecurity. The area is characterized by bad roads, lack of water, telecommunications and electricity, poor sanitation, access to basic social services such as education and health and virtually no employment opportunities. The zone also suffers from absence of or weak presence of the state and its institutions. Political instability, economic weakness, food insecurity and marginalization are leading to a situation of women and children trafficking from the Karamoja region. Livelihood insecurity, food insecurity, increased social tension, less access to useable water, decreased trade, decline in human health, increased poverty, decreased physical security, and increased migration.
Forced displacement from Karamoja has clearly increased in the last couple of years because for over a decade now, Karimojong women and children have inundated the streets of major urban areas in Eastern Uganda and the capital city Kampala as beggars. According to United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Kampala City Council (KCC) about 80 per cent of Kampala's street beggars come from Karamoja. In many instances, women, particularly mothers have been found to be the key decision makers regarding out-migration. Women often made the decision to leave Karamoja with or without children, often because they were neglected or abused by a male relative or husband. To women, some of the immediate factors that compel them to move are: loss of livestock, poor harvests, abandonment or death of breadwinners or key family members, and the weakening or collapse of social safety nets. Those who are abandoned believe that they have no other recourse than to beg in Kampala. Many women become angry when their husband takes a new wife and take themselves and their children away. Others leave the region to escape arranged marriages. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is on the increase in Karamoja according to a report by UNFPA which states that thousands of girls aged 10-15 are being circumcised and forcefully married off. About 100% of the Pokot girls have undergone FGM exposing them to risks of HIV/AIDS, excessive bleeding and death.
Keywords: karamoja, uganda, forced migration, out migration, insecurity
JEL Classification: F20, J13, J60, J70, N37, R23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation