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Archbishop John Baptist Odama addressing religious leaders in Gulu



The Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU), has started the post Covid-19 pandemic recovery strategy by identifying and handling the negative effects of the pandemic on the local communities in Uganda.

Joshua Kitakule, the general secretary of the organization, while addressing members from Acholi sub region at Golden Peace Hotel in Gulu City last week, said that the secretariat has already identified some of the critical issues.

He said these include high levels of gender-based violence (GBV), food insecurity, inflation, teenage pregnancies, and poverty among others.

Kitakule explained that it’s important to have a mechanism to counteract these effects created by the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in the Acholi sub region.

He was flanked by the Archbishop of Gulu Archdiocese, His Grace Dr John Baptist Odama, who said Covid-19 came when the people of Northern Uganda were still recovering from the 20 years’ insurgency by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels.

Archbishop Odama explained that the effects of the 20 years LRA insurgency coupled with the outbreak of Covid-19 have impoverished the people in the region with the majority no longer able to take their patients to good health facilities and children to good learning institutions.

He cited the example of Gulu University which sits in the heart of Gulu and it’s the only big learning institution in Acholi sub region but with over 80% of the students from other regions.

Archbishop Odama said this shows that there is high level of poverty that is forcing the parents in Acholi sub-region to send their children to mediocre schools.

“It would be of great sympathy, values and gestures to well-wishers from other regions to extend helping hands to support poor parents from northern Uganda who could not afford to pay their children to school,” Odama counselled.

Sheikh Musa Khalil, the Assistant Mufti of Northern Uganda, said the effects of Covid-19 pandemic need to be tackled one by one from the grassroots level and one step at a time with strong and full commitment and collaboration from all stakeholders.

Meanwhile, Rev Margarete Aciro from the Deliverance Church in Gulu City, said the pandemic effects like teenage pregnancies, GBV, poverty, lack of parental care and street kids can be handled only if everybody does their role effectively.

The religious leaders promised to use the churches and mosques and other spiritual tools to sensitize locals on mindset change and what each one should do to cope with the many challenges emanating from the Covid-19 pandemic.

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