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Human Rights in Uganda

Najah Farley: Uganda's Displaced Women

Najah Farley
Najah Farley, center, with Human Rights Focus Executive Director James A.A. Otto and staff attorney Anying Irene Winnie

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Contact: Rob Seal

There are many women among the camps of Ugandans driven from their homes by war in the country’s north.

“A lot of the men have been killed or have moved to the south to get jobs, because a lot of the rural economy has been destroyed as a result of the fact that people had to move into these camps,” said third-year law student Najah Farley. “As a result, they weren’t able to cultivate crops and continue with their original lifestyle.”

Farley visited Northern Ugandan to study women's rights inside the camps for internally displaced persons, or IDPs. She also spoke with NGOs that specialize in refugee law, and with members of parliament.

“Uganda is interesting, because it has the sixth-largest population of women in parliament in Africa,” she said.

But the women in the camps made the most profound impact on Farley. These women often lack land and inheritance rights, which can make them vulnerable to poverty and sexual violence.

“I was amazed by the resilience of the people in the IDP camps. I think that the people there had pretty much made a way for themselves. They had been totally displaced from their land. When we went on the tour of the camp, we saw monuments to massacres that had taken place. A lot of people had lost their children.  A lot of women were widows.”

Many of the women were interested in seeing a resolution to the peace process so they could return home, and in being able to acquire the right to own and develop land.

“It was a gut-wrenching, heart-wrenching experience, because you see that so much has happened to destroy the people. But you also see that everyone there is incredibly friendly, incredibly warm, and happy to have us visiting because they want to bring more attention to the things that are happening and expose the international world to the issues that are there.”