Fort Portal catholic Bishop urges youth to embrace vocational skills

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Survivors of human trafficking pose for a photo with Bishop Muhiirwa after successfully completing a training in different skills. Photo by Scovia Atuhaire.

Fort portal: The Bishop of Fort Portal catholic diocese Rt. Rev. Dr. Robert Muhiirwa has appealed to the youth to embrace vocational skills to get out of poverty and avoid being lured to Arab countries in search for jobs.

Bishop Muhiirwa said cases of human trafficking both within and outside Uganda have increased due to unemployment.

“Going to other countries like United Arab Emirates is not the solution to unemployment. Many Ugandans have been trafficked especially women in the name of being given jobs. Since government’s approach to reduce unemployment is through skilling, youth need to embrace it” Bishop Muhiirwa said.

He added that with a skill you cannot go on the streets looking for jobs because you with your skill you can create your own join job as long as you have capital.

He was speaking  during the handover of startup kits  to human trafficking survivors who were rescued by sisters of the Holy cross, rehabilitated and skilled in different fields including hairdressing, tailoring, Bakery, shoe making among others.

The event took place at sisters of the holy cross peace, justice and rehabilitation center in Kitumba Fort Portal city last week where 20 survivors were passed out and were given startup kits which included tailoring machines, saloon kits and microwaves among others.

 “We are aware of some cases reported about those who have been killed, tortured, sexually abused from Arab countries when they are taken to work as housemaids among other jobs. There are also cases of slavery reported by those people who go abroad for kyeyo. Our children are suffering but still more are going and others still want to go” Bishop Mihiirwa said.

The Bishop of Fort Portal catholic diocese Rt. Rev.Robert Muhiirwa blessing the machines before handing them over to the beneficiaries. Photo by Scovia Atuhaire.

He said some cases have been reported to government but they have been lured for good jobs, good money but unfortunately they end up in misery and enslaved.

According to Rev. Sr. Semerita Mbambu, the director Sisters of the Holy Cross peace , Justice and rehabilitation centre, in Rwenzori sub region, there are many cases of human trafficking for both females and males who are trafficked to other countries after being promised good paying jobs.

“Human trafficking is a big issue in our region. We have so far rescued over 500 people since 2019 and majority of these are women. We identify, rescue, rehabilitate, skill and reintegrate the survivors of human trafficking within this diocese and beyond” Sr.Mbambu said.

She said because of increasing cases of human trafficking in the region, they are always overwhelmed by the big number of survivors who need to be rehabilitated but unfortunately they don’t have enough resources neither do they have enough space for rehabilitation.

She however revealed that some of the survivors shy away and do not want to come out to seek help.

“Generally, men shy away yet they are trafficked, need help but do not have courage to seek help” she said.

Sr.Mbambu however, stressed that despite what many people are going through when they go abroad for jobs, more are stilling going there and some who were rescued, rehabilited and skilled went back.

She called upon all victims of human trafficking to use the skill they have and the startup kits given to them to create their own jobs to avoid going back abroad for better jobs.

“It still a challenge that some survivors of human trafficking after being rescued and skilled, they go back to those countries where they had been enslaved instead of utilizing the skill given and the startup kits which they receive after the skilling program” she said.

Adding that, “We have so far skilled over 500 survivors to ensure that they have an income generating activity to live a decent life and forget what they went through. I appeal to government to lend a hand and establish rehabilitation centers for such survivors and also forge a way of how they can end the vice”

The 2021 Uganda Human Rights Commission report indicated that a total of 1,295 persons were victims of trafficking out of whom 790 were victims of transnational trafficking, 475 were victims of internal trafficking, and 30 victims were unknown.

The same report shows that a total of 713 victims were female adults, 285 were female juveniles, and 86 were male juveniles, while 181 were male adults.

The most forms of exploitation for victims of trafficking in persons include sexual where 117 cases were registered, labor 94, forced marriage 47, illegal activity 19, and debt bondage 5.